20191123 MBB CSU Bakersfield - LKenneally

The Kennel gets fired up in Gonzaga basketball's home win over CSU-Bakersfield.

I’m zoning out listening to the crowd gossip around me. Someone is spilling how they used to have a class with one of the men’s basketball players and one time they waved at them. Suddenly, I realize I’m on the big screen. Sadly, this is not a first for me. Looking the absolute wrong direction during the game is a common occurrence for a clueless sports “fan” like me.

The game I attended occurred on Nov. 23 against the California State Bakersfield Roadrunners. Gonzaga men’s basketball won 77-49. Unfortunately, I was not provided a VIP press pass for this event, so I had to settle for the student section. But to be honest, if I were to interview a basketball player, the only questions I could muster would be, “how did you feel when you passed the ball to that other tall guy?” or “how do you manage to sweat that much?” or “have you always been this tall?”

I decided to strategically stand near the Bulldog Band because they go so incredibly hard and I admire their level of hype. My personal favorite instrument used in the band is the cowbell. I am dangerously tempted to purchase my own.

During 65% of the game, I’m mesmerized by the Bulldog Band. The other 35% of the time, I’m helplessly attempting to understand how basketball works and how the game is going.

I have such limited knowledge on basketball terminology and the game as a whole, so I read an ESPN recap article to orient me on what happened at the game I attended.

One of the lines in the recap read, “The Bulldogs hounded the Roadrunners into 40% shooting and 27 turnovers.”

I have no idea what that means. But I wanted to provide some legitimate sports lingo for all the sports lovers out there, so there you go. That was a factual summary of what happened, which I clearly didn’t gather while I was there.

The Zags were energized, glistening hype-beasts, sinking basket after basket. I also noticed players on both teams were very dramatic when they fell, flailing their arms and almost always flopping on the spotless court, like a fish.

I know most of the necessary hand motions and cheers to do in the student section, so I’m camouflaged as someone who holds general basketball knowledge. If you asked me what any of them meant, I would not be able answer. I follow the masses with cheers such as “That way! That way!” and I’ve never been one to start one, nor will I be in the future. Not to flex, but I do know what the chant “Defense, Bulldogs, defense!” means.

I never know when to form the number 3 with my fingers, insinuating a potential 3-pointer. But as always, I act like I know exactly what I’m doing, often adding a guttural, spirited yell to solidify the act of being an educated sports fan.

Before I graduate, my goal is to know enough about basketball to yell things unprompted at the players such as “C’mon ref, that was clearly a flop, he did not get fouled, man!”

I find myself looking at the screen a lot, maybe a little too much. It feels correct, even though I am literally right in front of the action; the screen makes it seem more official and easier to grasp. In addition, I always seem to miss when something exciting happens. I will literally just blink and all of a sudden, the crowd is bursting with joy over the most insane shot of the game.  

Aside from the regular chants, the majority of the students partake in, such as “You got swatted,” there are always a few singular yells directed at the court that catch my attention. Throughout the game, I heard someone screech “You have small calves bro” to a player on the Roadrunners. Another student relentlessly yelled, “Let’s go big guys, we see you!”

At nearly every basketball game I’ve attended, there has been a situation with that one embarrassing friend who feels the need to scream random problematic phrases at the players. This results in the crowd glaring at them and the friends of the problematic messenger attempt to disassociate from them for the duration of the game.

Throughout the game, I misinterpreted many things. I thought Ryan Woolridge’s singular leg sleeve was a fashion statement, but I was snarkily informed that it was to help his circulation and prevent injury.

At another point in the game, the crowd started chanting “Tick tock” and I immediately laughed out loud because I thought everyone was voicing joint support of the strangely popular app. Shockingly, I couldn’t be further from the truth. This was simply an intimidation tactic to tell the other team that time was running out for a comeback.

One of the many times I zoned out during the game, I reminisced on how much more laborious attending a basketball game was freshman year vs. now, as a junior. Freshman year, we frantically waited in line for hours, just so we could be in the bleacher section to have a more bouncy affect when we jumped up and down in support of the team. We also planned our outfits days in advance and now, I literally just throw on a random GU shirt.

As per usual, the game was full of boys frothing over their lord and savior, Corey Kispert, belting “I love you, Corey” every other word and pounding their chests every time he took a step, cheering “That’s my boy!”

Also, why do most of the guys who attend games feel the need to wear jorts? This always perplexes me.

A highlight from the game was when my friend and I got hit in the back of the head by someone aggressively trying to take a selfie from a nearly impossible angle.

During any break in action, little kids doing the trendy “flossing” dance move always make the big screen. I feel it is safe to assume this is true at most games.

For me, watching the slow-mo highlight reel, backed by hype music, on the @zagmbb Instagram, was more informative than attending the actual game, due to my tendency to get absurdly distracted.

Does this make me a bad Zag? Maybe, but I’m working on it. While I may be clueless about the actual game of basketball, I love the supportive atmosphere our team and The Kennel provides. A sea of students, from all grades, collectively cheering for the same thing, stomping on the same bleachers, dressed in the same gear, is unmatchable.

Juliette Carey is an A&E editor.

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