The Bradley Factor

18,874 people can testify to hearing a sound that reached 114.7 decibels in an enclosed basketball arena. That's how many people experienced the sonic boom set off by the Bradley Center crowd as Steve Novak's game winning shot dramatically propelled Marquette to a 67-65 victory over rival Notre Dame on Friday night.

18,874 people can testify to hearing a sound that reached 114.7 decibels in an enclosed basketball arena. That's how many people experienced the sonic boom set off by the Bradley Center crowd as Steve Novak's game winning shot dramatically propelled Marquette to a 67-65 victory over rival Notre Dame on Friday night.

The roar of a crowd - an unmistaken noise in the world of sports.

Perhaps a sound equally as recognizable is the groan of a crowd. It's the kind of sound that may bring your temper to a boil. Or maybe it isn't a sound at all. Maybe things are so silent that you can hear the proverbial pin clanging against the hardwood floor. Reece Gains or Francisco Garcia anyone? That covers the silence part. Western Michigan in the 2005 NIT…groans abound.

Predicted by some to finish 12th in the new Big East, Marquette is off to a 14-5 start with a 4-2 conference record. Now, the Golden Eagles could be considered the most overachieving team in America at this point in the season. There is no question that the confidence and continued development of senior forward Steve Novak has been pivotal to MU's success. Steady play from role players like Joe Chapman and Ryan Amoroso has helped. The emergence of budding stars Dominic James and Jerel McNeal has certainly made a difference. But on par with great team performances and individual highlight reels might just be some other intangibles.

Gone are the days, lets hope, of 11,500 stewing over a home loss to Winthrop in the Blue and Gold Classic, Marquette's own tournament. The Bradley Center crowd has truly come alive in the past few weeks aiding this young Marquette squad to important home victories.

"What we are starting to see more and more is the other teams, the other programs, and the other coaches are talking not just when they are here…about our atmosphere and our crowd, they are talking away from here," said Coach Tom Crean of his home court advantage. "That brings the attention that our students and fans deserve. There might be somebody that is as loud, but I don't think there is anyone that brings more to the table than our fans do."

Crean credited the fans and the students for their effort in helping his young team against Notre Dame. Countless Notre Dame possessions down the stretch were inundated with a deafening buzz from the BC faithful. The Irish did not have a field goal from the 2:46 mark till the final horn.

"There is no way we win games like this without the energy of these crowds. To have everyone show up in this the weather we had speaks volumes of the fans, students, and the loyal people that are a part of this. We have five home games left. To have our fans drive this energy train gives us so much confidence," added Crean.

Some guys would choose to credit the "zone" for not being able to hear any crowd noise, but even Novak, who has operated in the "zone" for the better part of this season, credited the Marquette crowd. After recounting his though process during the final play, he was quick to mention what the crowd meant to the game.

"I think our fans did an unbelievable job and made it tough for those guys (Notre Dame) to come and play here," said Novak. "I personally feel like it's a really tough place to play for road teams."

I remember sitting on media row at the Wisconsin game watching the Badgers club Marquette up and down the floor. Leads swelled to almost 20 on several occasions, and it would have taken a geriatric enhanced chair to get some of those people out of their seats. The Bradley Center may not be Cameron Indoor Stadium or the "PIT" that graces the campus at the University of Oregon. It's old, after all, by NBA standards. But it really doesn't feel like an NBA arena when you are in there for a Marquette game. Of course, when your ears are subjected to 114 decibels worth of noise, anything can happen, as we are all learning with this 2005-2006 basketball season.

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