Atmosphere Improving at Coliseum

Bob Huggins had been campaigning, perhaps harder than he needed to, all week leading up to West Virginia's game against Gonzaga for fans to come in and fill the Coliseum.

After games with attendance coming in under 5,000 fans for two of the last three home games, WVU fans and the basketball team had taken some heat for the low numbers.

No, Tuesday's game against Gonzaga didn't have the biggest crowd of any home game West Virginia has had in the last few seasons – far from it. And no, it wasn't the loudest that's been at the Coliseum.

But what you saw Tuesday night was a good basketball environment with fans who were loud throughout the game and, at times, were able to be a big factor.

For years, people have talked about how great WVU fans are and how much of an impact they can have on games. However the environment at the Coliseum isn't consistently one that can be classified as one of the best in college basketball like a lot of people believe it is, even though it can be.

Mountaineer fans have always been known as an incredibly passionate bunch who love their WVU teams. It's impossible to count how many times coaches have talked about that fact, trying to get the point across that it means so much because of the fact that this is the equivalent of a pro sports team for the residents of this state.

Fans will travel from afar to Morgantown on a consistent basis to get to see this team play. And there's no reason it shouldn't consistently be the way that it was Tuesday night.

From this point on throughout the rest of the schedule, West Virginia will be taking on teams that will serve as important pieces toward the Mountaineers' resume for when tournament time rolls around here in a few months.

When this team is going to need wins, especially at home, it needs to be able to count on this crowd at the Coliseum to be there to provide a lift. It might seem like something that doesn't matter, but it helps this team out when it's a good environment.

Following the loss to Gonzaga, multiple players pointed out how good the fans were – even though they lost and struggled to close out a game once again.

Huggins has pointed it out time and time again, and West Virginia fans proved the fact on Tuesday night: When the Coliseum gets full, especially when a good team and a big game comes around, it's an extremely difficult place to play.

Now more than ever this team might need that to be a factor, as this Mountaineer team will likely be fighting for its tournament life over the course of the next few months.

Tuesday night was a start, a good place to build on. It gave fans an in-person look at how much better this team is than it was a year ago. This isn't the team that got blown out and gave up against Gonzaga a year ago.

And it deserves a good atmosphere when it plays on its home court when Big 12 opponents begin to come into Morgantown.

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