More than 6,700 fans showed up Friday night at Fifth Third Arena for UC's first-round NIT game with Charlotte. Even Bearcats coach Andy Kennedy cited a few of the many reasons for the fans NOT to be there.
1. St. Patrick's Day.
2. Friday night.
3. The "real" tournament was on TV, and UC wasn't in it.
4. No beer was sold.
5. Did I mention, no beer was sold?
Granted, 6,700 is barely half Fifth Third Arena's capacity. But, the fans that were present were enthusiastic and loyal.
Sure, signs of the Selection Sunday hangover still lingered - one banner in the student section read: Is Air Force Better Than This?
But, the crowd roared encouragement throughout, even when the Bearcats trailed by eight points late in the second half. Following a spirited comeback by UC, chants of "Hire Andy" cascaded from the rafters.
As I banged out my 300-word AP wire story from the "Who Really Cares? Tournament", I couldn't help but be impressed.
I've had my issues with UC basketball fans in the past. But, sometimes the good fans show their true colors under the most interesting and trying circumstances.