Prime time Pitt State
Pitt State, MIAA successful national debut
Tim Spears | Sports Reporter
Jacob Welander doesn’t get to enjoy much Pitt State basketball as a fan. A junior in broadcast communication, he is typically found working the student-run productions that air on the university’s cable access station.
“Most of the basketball games I go to, I have to watch through a camera lens,” he said. With CBS Sports televising a PSU basketball nationally, “it was nice to be able to take in the whole scene at once.”
At the “Gold Rush” games on Jan. 5, in the John Lance Arena, the scene included 1,100 more fans than any other home game this season. They were drawn in by the hype of the Gorillas, matchup against the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats, a long-standing rival, being telecast throughout the country.
Sangwon Yun, junior in electronic engineering, felt the intense atmosphere created by the Gorilla fan base.
“Compared to football games, it was kind of a small game because of the matter of size. However, it was as heated as the football games,” Yun said.
Pittsburg State pulled out all the stops in creating a special event for fans. Free pancakes were served before the dedication of the newly renovated Whetzel Court. Free gold T-shirts were set out for fans to embrace the “Gold Rush” theme. And the south-side bleachers were unveiled as the new student section. The pageantry seemed to have the intended effect on the crowd.
“The fans got a little more into it,” Welander said. “It felt like the fans were paying a little more attention to the actual games. Not that they normally don’t, it just felt like you could hear their reactions to even the little things happening on the court.”
The action started with the Pitt State women defeating the Northwest Missouri Bearcats, 76-47. Lauren Brown pulled down a school-record 22 rebounds during the blowout. Adrian Herrera, a graduate student in communication and former guard on the men’s team, says the large audience may have had something to do with the win.
“A huge crowd at a home game can give a team a huge advantage over the other team,” Herrera said. “It can be intimidating to the other team and there’s just a lot more energy in the building you can feed off of.”
For Welander, a lot of the energy was generated by the CBS cameras.
“Going into the games, appearing on TV was my main goal,” he said.
Others were just caught up in the moment.
“I was cheering for Pitt, shouting a lot, distracting the opposite team. I didn’t intend to appear on TV, but someone told me that I was,” Yun said.
The men’s team lost a tough 62-51 contest, but Herrea still felt the exposure was more than positive for Pitt State fans and alumni.
“It was good for the athletic department to showcase the new facility and the school’s commitment to their sports programs,” Herrera said. “To have your school represented on a national level was very exciting and it made me proud to be a part of the school.”