McGuirk Arena has seen its fair share of talent running up and down the court over the years.
Ever since Sue Guevara took over as head coach of the women’s basketball team in 2007, that talent has resided amongst her teams. The Chippewas worked their way up the Mid-American Conference ranks and by 2012, her team had a championship.
These wins show the excellence of her teams, but there is something else that the coach views as important in this successful stretch: the fans.
“I absolutely think we have a home-court advantage,” Guevara said. “Our crowds have been really good here and if I’m not mistaken, we’ve been over 1,000 (fans) for every home game.”
Home-court advantage is an aspect of the game that is overlooked by some. In college sports and in college basketball especially, it can make or break a team.
The Chippewas “sixth player” as Guevara refers to it, has been there on the court for all of her team’s dominance in recent seasons. She recognizes the support by paying tribute to them after each home game via microphone speech to the crowd. A tradition started by a colleague of hers has now become a common sight in McGuirk Arena after both wins and losses.
“I have to give the credit (for the act) to my former assistant coach, Kathy McGee. Two or three years ago, we had a really big win and the crowd was really into it and Kathy suggested that I take the arena microphone and address the crowd. That’s how it started,” Guevara said.
With the likes of senior guard Niki DiGuilio and fellow guard, junior Crystal Bradford leading the Chippewas to an undefeated record in MAC play this season, the team’s fans have been just as enthralling as Guevara’s postgame speeches to the crowds.
“Our crowds have been better and I’m loving every minute of it because we feed off of the fans,” senior Taylor Johnson said. “We love our fans and we love that our fan base keeps growing day in and day out.”
Even with the constant roar that is the team’s crowd, Guevara wants to see as many people as possible make their way to the arena as the season reaches its home stretch. She never underestimates the value of momentum and team energy in the pivotal points of the game.
“I think our students appreciate the style of ball we play and I think the more students we can get in, the harder it is for the other team,” Guevara said.
Students could be responsible for a handful of missed free throws from opposing teams so far this year. With a full section of students just a mere 15 feet away from the line, it isn’t too difficult to see the sixth player in full-effect. This advantage was seen even through the team’s last home win against Bowling Green.
“That student section that was down there when we played Bowling Green made a world of difference when they were at the free-throw line; they were right in the opponent’s face,” said Guevara. “With what I have seen, our student section is probably one of the best.”
Backed by the sixth player that is the McGuirk Arena crowd, the Chippewas look to continue their home dominance in hopes of bring a second consecutive MAC Championship to Mount Pleasant in 2014.