Two questions I pondered on my drive home from covering the Maine men’s basketball game last night:

1. If the Black Bears had beaten Vermont, would the fans have stormed the court?

2. And if so, would anyone have noticed?

Yes, I know that students are still on their winter break, but that was the quietest crowd I’ve ever encountered at a Division I men’s basketball game. It was announced at 1,024. In the spacious Cross Insurance Center, it sounded like a small fraction of that.

I don’t recall ever hearing opposing players making jokes about the paltry number of fans in attendance before, and yet both of the Catamounts who came to the postgame news conference pointed it out.

Guard Trae Bell-Haynes scored 27 points in the 90-72 win over Maine, one off his career high. That occurred Nov. 21 in a victory over Niagara in the opening game of the Hall of Fame Tipoff at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Those are similar venues, a Vermont reporter pointed out to Bell-Haynes.


“Same amount of people in the crowd, too,” he said with a slight laugh.

The box score does not list an attendance figure for that neutral-site game, but I gathered from Bell-Haynes’ phrasing that he was not indicating it was a raucous atmosphere.

Later, Vermont center Ethan O’Day was asked if he was aware of exactly when he eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career. It was on a free throw, he said.

“I think I heard A.J. (Kanell) on the (radio) call and that’s how I knew it,” O’Day said. “Because it was so quiet in there and I just could hear him say, that’s the 1,000th point.”

Yes, it was quiet enough for an opposing player to hear his radio announcer immediately after a free throw.

Albany drew 3,415 for a home game Wednesday. Binghamton got 1,715. Vermont averages about 2,000. Those aren’t great numbers, but imagine the increase in the decibel level if you doubled the size of the CIC crowd?


(In fairness, Massachusetts-Lowell beat UMBC before a home crowd listed at 341 on Wednesday. Yes, it could be worse).

Wednesday night I could hear the conversations of players and officials on the court, which was illuminating at times, and also the chatter of fans to my left and behind me, which was not.

Look, the CIC is never going to be Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas, but I guess I expected a better response from Maine fans after the team won back-to-back home games, scoring 98 points in each. The team was playing exciting basketball, the weather was as perfect as it gets in January, and Vermont is a traditional rival that has been near the top of the conference for years.

Apparently a decade of lethargy takes a little longer to shake off.

It’s too bad. The Black Bears were competitive for a half. I was impressed with their defensive tenacity in an 18-3 run late in the first half that propelled them to a 36-30 lead.

Vermont was ultimately too good, too poised. Maine is still too young, too undisciplined to compete with such a team.


But the Black Bears are fun to watch. More people should start doing just that.

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH

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