By Tucker Cergol and Wilson Wong
As Greg Dunne, the men’s basketball coach at SUNY Brockport, watched his team win by nearly 50 points on Tuesday, Feb. 11, one thing seemed to stand out – the crowd at home games continue to grow with the team’s success.
Throughout this season, the home crowd has grown for both teams, with both teams gaining more support now as the regular season is coming to an end and playoffs right around the corner. Dunne understands how valuable it is having the home crowd behind you this late in the year.
“Home court advantage is such a huge thing, at any level of college basketball. The home team is always heavily favored, and there’s a reason for it. It’s because of your familiarity with the gyms and opponents coming into an unfamiliar environment, and then if you throw great crowd and fan support on top of that, it makes it a difficult place to play,” Dunne said.
Not only is this something that coaches notice, but the players recognize this as well. A member of the women’s basketball team, Julianna Taylor also sees the importance in home court and how valuable the village of Brockport residents are to their success.
“I think home court advantage is real. When we have a lot of fans, and family and energy in the gym we definitely play better. We need energy in order to play well. If we don’t have good energy, we’re gonna suck, so it’s really important,” Taylor said.
With both teams being in the playoff picture right now, support from their fans and family is something that is very important. Devante Hagins, a player on the men’s team, says that family extends to your teammates.
“We preach family. Family is a big part of our team and culture. With us hanging out so much off the court, it makes it that much easier to connect on the court,” Hagins said.
When the athletes are able to gain confidence from the fans of Brockport, plus their teammates, that only adds to the momentum.
Brockport’s basketball programs don’t just assume that the community will come out and support them. Julianna Taylor highlights how the teams give back.
“We work with Athletes in Action. We go to the church and prepare and make food for all the members before mass, and we also rake leaves in the fall, which is where we choose houses in the community and rake their lawns for them, and we also do the bottle and can drive,” Taylor said.
Both teams rake people’s lawns, have canned food drives, and hold fundraisers. Players of Brockport’s men’s and women’s teams greatly appreciate the support they get from the fans and community of Brockport.
“When we put ourselves out there and show that we care about the community as a whole and not just the college, then we definitely get more support… both teams also run camps and clinics for younger kids and we get a lot of support from them too. They come to our games and love to watch us play,” Taylor said.
With Brockport cheering them on throughout, they hope to make their fans proud and win conference championships.