GREEN BAY - As the season has progressed, more and more fans have been showing up to the Resch Center to watch the UW-Green Bay men's basketball team.
“They have a very good team this year, been watching them very closely, even on the computer when their out of town,” said Mark Wisneski of Green Bay.
The program hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament in 18 years. Fans think this could be the year that drought ends.
“Without question this is one of the best teams in GB history,” said Pat Joyce a former player for UW-Green Bay.
“It's like the old days, we'd go back to the arena days when Pat was playing and they packed that place and it was on fire, so we got to see a lot of great basketball and now the fans are seeing some more great basketball,” said Mark Olejniczak of Green Bay.
The success has generated higher attendance numbers. The team's average crowd this year is 4,041 people. Last year, when the team finished with just two more wins than losses, average attendance was 3,084. Four years ago, when the team had a losing record at 14-18, attendance was even lower, 3,007 people.
However, this season’s attendance numbers are well below the Brown County Arena's approximate 5,600 seat capacity, which was consistently filled during the program's banner years in the '90s.
“When you're winning and you're really good, you're on TV more, you're getting more national and regional visibility, so more high school students see that, more parents see that, more athletes see that,” said Mary Ellen Gillespie, athletic director for UW-Green Bay.
“You know the losses are tough to take and this year is exciting because you have some exciting players,” said Wisneski.
If the players keep up the excitement, fans say they'll keep showing up, hopefully well into March.
The team won on Thursday night, clinching its first regular season title since the 1995-1996 season. It will host the Horizon League Tournament in March.