The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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With success comes hassle for Mustang fans

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SMU vs Memphis at Moody Coliseum on Feb. 1, 2014. This would be one of the first of seven SMU home games that would sell out, breaking a home sellout record. Photo credit: Dacota Taylor

Five years ago if someone had told SMU students their school would have a nationally ranked basketball team their eyes would have hit the ceiling.

Fast forward to 2014, and SMU has been ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll and is on its way to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1993.

Not only has SMU scored its first AP ranking in more than 20 years, they’ve broken the 1984-1985 season record of five sell-out games with a whopping seven sell-out matchups this season.

But with great teams come some hassles. Getting coveted tickets to high-profile (and often low-profile) matchups is getting tougher.

Camping for tickets on cold January nights, previously an unknown sight at SMU, has become commonplace on Sunday and Monday nights for student ticket giveaways. Other problems include hunting for parking on those nights, as well as on game nights.

“I had no problems getting tickets, but I camped overnight with friends,” SMU senior finance major Scott Robison said. “Others I know waited overnight and didn’t get any tickets at all.”

Veteran head coach Larry Brown tries to make the late night waits easier for students. He, along with the men’s basketball team, have been delivering coffee and donuts to the ticket campers on chilly nights.

The students don’t seem to care about the cold. According to SMU Sports Management professor Michael Lysko, a graduate of basketball powerhouse Indiana University, it’s actually helpful for the tickets to be so rare.

“Scarcity is a good thing,” Lysko said. “The harder the tickets are to get, the more people will want to come.”

It’s a simple system that SMU followed: Hire a winning coach, train winning players, create a winning basketball arena, reduce the number of seats to create demand and watch the crowds go wild as they try to get tickets to what the Dallas Morning News has called the hottest games in Dallas.

Across the country, college students with popular teams camp for tickets, going to extreme lengths to acquire them. Ross Pulliam, a former student of the University of Kansas who now works in the communications industry, said camping for Kansas tickets was a way of life for the Jayhawks’ zealous fans.

“[Student] teams were formed and a team member was required to camp inside their stadium for five days on a waiting list for tickets,” he said. Team members would rotate out when necessary for classes, but there would always be someone there.

Just four years ago, none of this was happening at SMU. The program was struggling and Moody Coliseum was far from full.

“We went as a group when I was a freshman and the only people at games were a few fraternities,” Robison said. “Now the games are packed and my fraternity even has its own box.”

Lysko said that when basketball games are like going to parties or bars, people become more attracted to them. People like to be where other people are having fun.

“The Mob student section was a great idea and helped us come a long way,” he said about the exclusive, student-only section off the Moody Coliseum arena floor.

But in the competitive world, SMU basketball is still the new kid on the block. And unlike SMU, who has been trying to rebuild its program for years, many of the major schools never get chances to retrain or start over. They’re just always good.

“There are no ‘rebuilding’ years in Kansas basketball,” Pulliam said. “The team is under huge pressure to perform every single season.”

But Coach Brown knows all about Jayhawk basketball and the pressures that program is under. After all, the Godfather coached there before moving on to the San Antonio Spurs back in the ‘80s.

Brown knows more than just how to build a team; he knows how to build a society. And he’s done that at SMU.

That’s how SMU became a basketball school whose fans are more than willing to brave the cold, whose fans finally rally behind their school like students from Kansas or Syracuse. And as foreign as all of this seems, the students wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The students really have a program to rally behind now, and they seem to really be loving it,” Lysko said. “Whenever a community comes together like this it’s a really neat thing.”

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