When the horn sounded Monday night and the BMO Harris Bradley Center erupted in celebration of Marquette University’s impressive 74-71 victory over Syracuse, you could feel what a true home court advantage is.
The place rocked throughout the night, and was nearly deafening when the Golden Eagles made big plays.
Many media members tweeted about how loud it was, and once again prove that the BMO Harris Bradley Center can indeed be an atmosphere in which a basketball team and thrive.
"It’s huge, man. The support we get from everyone here is just great," junior forward Jamil Wilson said.
"Our fellow students come out and they support us no matter what. It could be cold outside and they’re camping out if it’s a big game. They come with homework the next day or whatever it may be. They make us a priority, to come and support us. What can we do? Our best thing that we can do for them is give them a win, an escape from school. That’s what it’s for. They support us and we do our best to try and entertain them and let them have fun for a couple hours."
The victory was the Golden Eagles’ 24th straight at home, the second longest streak in Division I hoops. Afterwards, I asked Golden Eagles coach Buzz Wiliams if this streak is a "thing" now, something that the team is aware of, that maybe should get a little more attention than it already has.
"Maybe I should address it. I don’t say anything about it (to the players)," Williams said. "I’m thankful for our students, thankful for our longtime season ticket holders. I think it’s a great environment. I thought tonight you could feel the spirit of the crowd before the jump ball."
Williams then illustrated what the streak has meant to his program on the court.
"If you’re going to have a chance to win in anything, you need to win at home and you need to win half your games on the road," he said.
"And if you do that, you’re going to be in the mix for something. And the streak that we’ve been on, I don’t know that we would have necessarily been a high seed in the NCAA Tournament without that streak because I know home wins impact the RPI probably more than it should, but RPI is considered by all the committee members. We need to try to get one more."
He paused, then smiled.
"Then schedule some really bad teams in November."
Marquette puts the streak on the line this afternoon against Notre Dame in their home finale. What does it mean to you? What does it say about the Golden Eagles, or the BMO Harris Bradley Center as a basketball venue?
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.