The roaring of the crowds and the music played by the JMU pep band is what keeps the energy up when the JMU women’s basketball team sets foot on the court. The fan base and energy they provide at the Convocation Center matters more than many may realize.
After losing in the CAA semifinals to Elon, the Dukes knew they had to shift back to their roots when playing against tough and athletic East Tennessee State at the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“Coming off of the [CAA] tournament we just wanted to come back to our foundation and that’s our defense and that’s what fuels us,” junior guard Logan Reynolds said. “We know that obviously they are athletic and they’re going to get up in us but we needed to be calm. We just needed to run our stuff, be us.”
At this time of year teams compete for their lives. Players play hard, relentless basketball because for some these will be games they ever play. Head coach Sean O’Regan put this into perspective after the 8-point win over ETSU this past Thursday.
“Somebody said to me, you should have won that game by 25,” O’Regan said. “I don’t think there was any way we would ever win that game by 25 just because of their toughness and resiliency.”
ETSU’s solid core doesn’t come from just anywhere, it’s built into their program. ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell dwells on the difficult schedule they’ve played this season, which she believes to have had a positive impact while playing JMU. However, it was one component of JMU’s game off the court that benefited the game on the court.
“I made them play the No. 2, No. 5 and No. 11 team in the country,” Ezell said. “And then I bring them to James Madison, who has some of the best fans in the country.”
It’s known that JMU has a phenomenal pep band and some of the best fans on the East Coast which helps set the tone and provide energy that the team feeds off of.
“I think against a team like this, setting the tone was important,” O’Regan said. “I didn’t know what we would do to start the game because of the semifinal game, but it was crucial for the momentum of the game.”
The effort was brought throughout the whole game, and just like the players, the fans’ energy never gave up either. ETSU was aware of this environment and was warned prior to tipoff.
“We told our players before going in, ‘hey it’s a tough environment, but it’s not one of those environments where you go in and you think these idiots are just going to yell and scream things that don’t make sense.’” Ezell said. “These people know basketball, I have a deep-seated admiration for people that know women’s basketball, that appreciate women’s basketball and that show up to support it and they did all three, so kudos to James Madison.”
The energy in the crowd is a huge proponent when teams face competitors. It can decide whether teams win or lose, which was the case when JMU faced ETSU.
Contact Paige Ellenberger at email@example.com. For more women’s basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter at @TheBreezeSports.