Not A Graveyard Anymore

By Jeff Munn

The night of Thursday, February 15, 2018 will not be remembered for a funeral.

It just seems that way.

Arizona State DID lose a men’s basketball game, 77-70, to Arizona. That was about the only negative. The rest of the night at Wells Fargo Arena was a two hour ceremony where several long standing beliefs about ASU Basketball were laid to rest, at least temporarily…

Myth #1 – ASU needs U of A fans to fill “The Bank”. Not anymore. Despite what some in Tucson were saying, the walls at the top of Wells Fargo Arena were not removed just for the Arizona game. They were removed before any Pac-12 opponent showed up. The Devils’ average attendance for seven Pac-12 home games is 13,323 – bottom line: ASU needed to expand capacity to get everyone in. For every game. Which leads to…

Myth #2 – ASU fans will NEVER support men’s basketball. We could just leave this at the previously mentioned attendance figure, but throw in the celebration at Weatherup Center after ASU won at Kansas in December, and, well, we think that’s all that need be said on that one.

Okay, one other thing – before someone in Wildcat Country says ASU fans are frontrunners, have them go look at attendance figures at McKale before Lute Olson arrived. It’s not pretty.

Myth #3 – No coach can ever have big success at Arizona State. Granted, what’s going on right now isn’t “big” success, but most everyone in college basketball can see Bobby Hurley is doing something his predecessors couldn’t – follow up a strong year with recruiting classes that ensure the winning will continue. If you still don’t believe it, read or listen to Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen. Seems every time Hurley’s name is mentioned, Hansen follows it up with “he’ll be the guy that follows Coach K at Duke”. Makes you wonder if Hansen is predicting it….or praying for it. Which, somewhat awkwardly, brings us to…

Myth #4 – Civility will never be a part of the ASU-U of A rivalry. Thursday night’s crowd was intense, rabid, and fun. Gone are the days of vile comments directed at players by both sides. Yes, the students at ASU did chant “FBI” as Sean Miller left the court at the end of the first half, and an Arizona cheerleader was ejected for yelling “Not today, Remy” through a megaphone at ASU’s Remy Martin after he was told not to do so by game official Randy McCall. By the way, you’re warned, then you yell it again in a megaphone that ESPN could clearly pick up? 

U of A fans in attendance handled their victory with class. That should not go unnoticed. Ever.

Myth #5 – ASU doesn’t know how to put on a show at basketball games. That was actually put to rest a long time ago, but just to make sure, ASU brought in boxing announcer Michael Buffer to do his legendary intro (we can’t say it….legal stuff, you know). Between the improvements in the sound system and the Curtain of Distraction, ASU games grab your attention from the moment you walk into “The Bank”. Concessions are better too.

The show isn’t limited to the arena. The vibe outside Wells Fargo was just as electric. From the College Bar and Grill’s “No Wildcat” policy Thursday night (trust me, they noticed in Tucson), to the big screen brought out on the South Lawn of the arena for the benefit of the students who couldn’t get in, everything said “Big Event” way before and way after the game. Oh, and speaking of students…

Myth #6 – ASU students don’t care. Oh really? Who was that camped outside “The Bank” two days before tipoff? Who was let in to the arena concourse Wednesday night when it started raining?  Who was that sitting in the upper deck BEFORE the doors opened to everyone else? And finally…

Myth #7 – Wells Fargo Arena is a dump. Old yes, dump no. Long time observers of Pac-10/12 Basketball know a dump when they see one. McKale Center and Staples Center only have a last name in common. McKale’s not a dump either. Does Wells Fargo need a facelift? Sure, and it’s getting one. Most human beings who turn 44 aren’t as youthful looking as they were 20 years prior.

Yes, this could all change, but for right now, ASU Basketball is not only talking the talk, they’re walking the walk, and in this case, everyone in the rivalry wins.