The Far West Classic made its return over the last weekend and made a pretty nice starting point to start trying to make a bigger deal out of it.
It was interesting to arrive for the opening game and see the number of University of Portland fans, they had a good percentage of a couple sections filled up and made some pretty good noise when their slightly overmatched Pilot team started making a run on Weber State. It ended up making for a pretty fun game despite there being maybe 3,000 people in attendance.
The atmosphere slowly built from there, the UP band made their way out and a raucous Beaver band made their way in and started to bring some energy into Moda Center. The crowd trickled in and when the introductions began it felt like a home game, loads of cheering and the fight song to get the crowd standing and clapping. Once the game tipped off it became more of a pro atmosphere, occasional cheering but mostly quiet.
Not sure if that had any impact on the Beavers but they started off a little sluggish and they really didn't get it going until the second half where a GPII 360 dunk woke the crowd up for a minute. It actually appeared to be an adjustment from a reverse jam but it got the crowd going either way. With renewed energy the Beavs ran ahead and kept pace the rest of the way to coast to an easy win.
Day two brought a less energetic Pilot crowd than the first day, though their team showed up and ended up outplaying the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Compared to the barnburner they had the first day it was a quiet affair but it was the quiet before an orange and black storm.
From the beginning of the game the crowd was already more into it, more than likely thanks to the women's basketball game being played on the jumbotron (and a heck of a game it was). The crowd was alreay riled up and ready to cheer, which made it unfortunate for the Beavers to come out flat against a good opponent in Tulsa. One issue with this invitational was only getting Tulsa for one game, it looked like the Golden Hurricanes came out fresh and took it the Beavers early.
The crowd was ready to break out for most of the game but wouldn't have much of a chance until the OSU offense started to wake up in the second half and finally broke through to a roar from the crowd. From there the game felt like it was down in Gill, lots of noise, people standing and cheering (to the annoyance of the parent and child behind me). Without more of the students it would lose steam though. The crowd was primarily energized off a made basket but near silent after a miss. Combining the energetic Beaver band with the student section would help get things going again, and that is a logistics question for next year's iteration.
With the close of the game the crowd stayed and made noise to celebrate the performance of the team and made it feel like home.
While I enjoyed the event and thought it was a success, there are some things that could have improved it:
- Bringing in a team with a larger following. It would have been great to have some back and forth with the opposing fans, but the only two Tulsa fans in the arena would stand and yell "Tee You" every five minutes or so. It would have really brought up the environment to have some competition in the crowds, but it was always going to be difficult to bring in teams for this revival.
- As mentioned earlier make sure all teams can play the whole weekend. It seemed a little unbalanced at first on Saturday night and the rest times had a little bit to do with it. It would be nice for competitive balance, but again challenging for the return of the FWC.
- Talk to Oregon about getting them in too. The two teams don't need to play each other but it would get a lot more butts in seats. I don't especially feel like seeing green in the stands, but it would be good for raising the notoriety of the event.
- OUTLAW DOING THE WHIP. I am absurdly sick of people doing the whip whenever they get on the dance cam. It has been overdone to death and it's barely even current anymore! At least the dab is slightly more relevant, but please be slightly more original!