Terrier basketball’s successful past, exciting present, and ambitious future will meet on the court of Agganis Arena tonight, as the men’s team kicks off its 100th season with a top preseason conference ranking and a ceremony honoring the 1959 squad, the best team in program history.
The men’s team, named the favorite to win the America East Conference in a preseason coaches’ poll, starts the season at home in a matchup with George Washington University. At halftime, members of the 1959 team, which reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, will participate in a special ceremony honoring the team’s captain, the late Jack Leaman (SED’59,’60). Leaman’s wife and daughter will be on hand as the Terriers retire Leaman’s number 10 jersey.
“We’re looking back at our history and wanted to start the season right,” says Dan Satter, associate director of athletics communications.
The season opener festivities are part of a wider effort to build support and enthusiasm for BU athletics and to encourage students, faculty, staff, and alumni to attend games. With strong early-season rankings for men’s and women’s ice hockey — the men’s team this week was ranked number one in both the USA Today/USA Hockey and USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Division I polls — and high expectations for men’s and women’s soccer, the Athletics Department has been exploring new ways to draw fans to campus.
“One of the most important things we offer the BU community is our ability to bring people from all schools and colleges together,” says Mike Lynch, assistant vice president and director of athletics. “We’ve been working very hard to grow our fan base.”
So far, the strategies have been successful: the first game of the men’s soccer season was scheduled during move-in weekend and drew 6,000 fans, making the opener against the University of Massachusetts the best attended game in state history. Men’s hockey set an attendance record for Agganis Arena in October, bringing in 6,400 fans for a matchup against Michigan. And fans of the annual Terrier Tip-off (formerly called Midnight Madness), the official start of the basketball season, filled The Roof at the Case Center this year when the event was moved to 8 p.m.
This season’s initiatives also include more games at Agganis Arena — six for the men’s basketball team and two for the women’s, up from two games for the men and one for the women last season — and the Terrier Rewards program, which gives students attending basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and women’s lacrosse games points to be redeemed for prizes. To boost attendance at tonight’s game, the 2009 Class Gift Committee, Senior Week, and Student Alumni Council are collaborating on a pregame party for seniors in the new Student Village 2 residence hall and a postgame concert for ticket holders featuring rapper Coolio. Faculty and staff can receive two complimentary tickets to the game as part of a special promotion.
Last year, basketball attendance at the Case Center increased by 16 percent, and Lynch is optimistic about fan support as well as the success of this year’s Terrier teams.
“It’s early, but basketball is rated number one in America East, both of our soccer teams, with luck, will be in the NCAA tournament, men’s hockey is rated number one, and women’s hockey is in the top 10,” he says. “It could be a really special year for us.”
The Terrier men’s basketball game against George Washington University is tonight, November 14, at 7 p.m. in Agganis Arena. Tickets are free for BU students enrolled in the Sports Pass program, $5 for students without a Sports Pass, and $10 for the general public. For tickets, visit the Agganis Arena Web site. The game can be heard on WWZN 1510 AM or followed online with Gametracker; visit the team’s Web site for more information.
Jessica Ullian can be reached at email@example.com.