NIU hopes to have true home-court edge

By Chris Jurmann

Nowhere is a home-field advantage more valuable than in college basketball. In the past, the home court hasn’t been as big an advantage for NIU as it is for other schools.

With the new Convocation Center, NIU hopes to make the stadium a place of fear for opposing teams as they come to play here. To make these wishes for the Convocation Center come true, NIU is looking to the students in the form of the Huskie Dog Pound to get the stadium rocking for every home game.

In the past, the Huskie Dog Pound was a simple, unorganized group of fans who gave what support they could to the NIU men’s and women’s basketball teams.

However, with the new Convo Center comes a new era for the Dog Pound; one in which the fans will be louder, organized, and make the Convocation Center a decided advantage for the Huskies.

“We want the students to be rowdy and supportive,” said Cameron Edwards, NIU’s assistant coordinator of marketing and promotions. “We want them to take pride in ownership of the student section.”

The Dog Pound is seated in a group of 582 seats located behind the basket on the NIU side of the court. The placement was important to men’s basketball coach Rob Judson, who specifically requested the Dog Pound be located on the NIU side.

Judson hopes the Dog Pound can have as big an impact as the Cameron Crazies have had for the Duke Blue Devils.

“I wanted the Dog Pound to be closest to our team and to have the band on the opponent’s side to be as loud as they can during the timeouts,” Judson said. “The Dog Pound is a huge part of our home court advantage and our team’s energy level. We want it to be a crazy, intimidating area for our opponents.”

The Dog Pound is available to all students on a first-come, first-serve basis at every game. However, there is a catch to this year’s Dog Pound. The shirts, which formerly were free to all students sitting there, now will cost $5. Students will not be allowed into the Dog Pound section without wearing their shirt.

“We want a tangible value placed on the T-shirts, as well as being a part of the Dog Pound,” Edwards said. “We don’t want to just give it away anymore, we want our students to be proud of their shirts and what it represents.”

For those who do not have a shirt, there will be other student seating available.

While normally students can just show up before the game and get their tickets, the first game against DePaul on Nov. 23 at 5:35 p.m. will offer the Dog Pound seats to students ahead of time. Students wishing to get those tickets need to go to the Athletic Ticket Office located in the Holmes Student Center right next to the computer labs. The office will be offering the tickets Nov. 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other benefits to being a part of the Dog Pound include prizes and the chance to be a part of the crowd that is featured by TV cameras.

Prizes include shirts, mini-basketballs, money and free food, Edwards said. Also, members of the Dog Pound will be given chances to appear on the court during halftime and timeout giveaways, Edwards said.

For information or to get a Dog Pound T-shirt, look for booths around campus on Dog Pound Days. These areas are located throughout campus at various locations today through Nov. 14. Dog Pound Days will take place at DuSable Hall, Barsema Hall, the Holmes Student Center and all of the NIU residence halls.