The NBA season was scheduled to start this week, but the owners and players have yet to reach a deal, meaning that the Denver Nuggets aren't warming up at the Pepsi Center anytime soon. Which made us wonder: Who else is "locked out?"
NBA fans won't stomach an entire season without hoops. Whether fans plant themselves in an arena or on their couch, the sounds of dribbling and sneakers on the hardwood will beckon. If Nuggets fans can’t head to “the Can,” they'll probably flock to more college games—and the timing is ideal.
Two Colorado teams played well enough to be considered as potential picks for the 2011 NCAA Tournament (one even made it), and university basketball coaches aren’t ignoring the fact that the NBA’s misfortune could shift attention to their teams. We chatted with some of the state's head coaches to see what they have planned for this season.
Occupation: Head coach, University of Denver
Last year: Drew the 10th largest increase in NCAA fan attendance
Tickets: $9-$15 (single) $96-$144 (season)
Who may show up at college games during the lockout? “The basketball fan, the one who knows and loves basketball, has a good possibility to come watch us play. ...There are lots of fans who go to Nuggets games that aren’t basketball fans. It’s the entertainment factor, the social factor, the Tuaca bar.”
What’s the draw for people to attend a college game? “We have gotten better and our program is growing. People know that. If it was four years ago, this wouldn’t matter because of where the program was. Now, it is possible that a fan already knows about us. If they don’t have an NBA game to go to, they may come out and watch one of ours.
How will the lockout impact the team? “We are all basketball fans, but we watch tons of college basketball. We watch the NBA as well. We will be able to judge the effect on us depending on where we are sitting in April if we don’t have any basketball to watch. I don’t even want to think about.”
Tad Boyle (pictured)
Occupation: Head Coach, University of Colorado
Last year: Snubbed for an NCAA bid, lost to Alabama in the NIT semifinal, 62-61
Tickets: $10-$30 (single) $60-$450 (season)
Who may show up at college games during the lockout? “There is a different fan who comes to watch the University of Colorado play than the Denver Nuggets. With there being no foreseeable NBA season this year, that will do nothing but help college basketball. Some fans that would normally go to or follow the NBA will watch college more now.”
What’s the draw for people to attend a college game? “College games are a lot different than an NBA game. There is energy in the arena from the students. It is an event rather than just another game.”
How will the lockout impact the team? “We had four guys leave our program last year. Alec Burks (who left CU after his sophomore season) was a lottery pick who is sitting there waiting for the lockout to end. Cory Higgins is a guy who is trying to make an NBA roster, also waiting for the lockout to end. Levi Knutson is in Spain playing. Marcus Relphorde is the guy who is caught in the middle. He wants to stay here, but would also like to go overseas. But, the overseas options aren’t there for him right now. The overseas teams are trying to get NBA guys.”
Occupation: Head Coach, University of Northern Colorado
Last year: Drove into the NCAA tournament’s second round, lost 68-50 to San Diego State
Tickets: $8-$15 (single) $65-$175 (season)
Who may show up at college games during the lockout? "Hopefully we will have more attendance. There are a lot of Nuggets fans in Greeley and Northern Colorado. If they can't get those games, hopefully they get their basketball fix in Greeley.”
What’s the draw for people to attend a college game? “Last year shows what can happen when a community and university come together with the basketball program for the same goal. We need to take advantage of this opportunity even though it is no good for the NBA guys.”
How will the lockout impact the team? "What we are seeing right now is a lot of guys who knew they may not get the NBA looks, but it hurts when teams that would have signed those guys in a heartbeat are now waiting for NBA players during the lockout. This is taking jobs away from those guys." (Check in on what former-UNC’s star, Devon Beitzel, is up to.)
Occupation: Head Coach, Colorado State University
Last year: Fell in the NIT’s first round to Fairfield, 62-60
Tickets: $12-$15 (single) $185 (season)
Day One: The Player