November 16, 2000

Zoning Out for Men's Basketball

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It’s awesome, baby. Look at the spirit of the fans. They’re crazy, they’re rowdy, they’re wacky. It’s college, baby. Phi Slamma Jamma, baby!!!

Though we won’t have Dick Vitale’s wild commentary at Cornell men’s basketball games, this year we will have the enthusiasm that Dicky V perpetually refers to on ESPN college basketball night.

First year head coach, Steve Donahue, brings with him a lofty resume from Penn and a desire to put Cornell basketball back on the map. He advocates a system that brings fans closer to the game and gives his players a true home-court advantage.

If the Duke Blue Devils have “The Blue Zone” in which the students don blue shirts and incessantly bounce to the drum of Duke basketball, then Cornell now has “The Red Zone” in which the Cornell students will proudly wear red shirts and cheer to the beat of Big Red baskets. This innovative idea is part of Donahue’s overall system to get students more involved in the men’s basketball program.

The Red Zone will be a designated section for students, in which each student will receive one red shirt. Each student will be allotted only one shirt per year, and will be required to provide student identification in exchange for the shirt. Perfect Screen Printers will sponsor this event and will provide the attire. Further perks of “The Red Zone” include the chance to be picked to compete in a promotional event to win prizes. At least one zone member will be guaranteed selection; this is on top of the normal promotional events at basketball games.

“We want this to be a rowdy, student cheering section,” General Manager of Cornell Sports Marketing, Peter Fitzpatrick said. “We want this to be like Section A in the hockey games. It should be a hockey-like atmosphere.”

When Cornell students were informed about this creative idea, excitement was the general consensus.

“It’s gonna be the beginning of something big for the team this season,” senior Josh Leventhal said. “Cornell basketball is back!”

The basketball program will also team up with “Coaches versus Cancer” to raise money for the American Cancer Society. A portion of all ticket proceeds will go to the foundation. A work in progress, it is a program to which the fans are able to donate a designated amount of money for each three-pointer the Big Red hits. With last year’s head coach Scott Thompson recovering from his battle with cancer, this fundraiser hits home with the organization.

“It is nice to be able to do something close to all of our hearts,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick has also scheduled the Harlem Globetrotters to perform at Newman arena on February 7th, as part of their 75th Anniversary tour. The Big Red organization is trying to stimulate student body interest. The ball is now in the students’ court to take the initiative and be a part of this great Cornell tradition. The Big Red has extended its arms; it is now time for the fans to join forces with the basketball team and help lead it to an Ivy League championship.

Archived article by Jason Skolnik