WVU coach Bob Huggins has chosen to take to the road twice per year to give Mountaineer fans in the southern part of the state the opportunity to see them play. Normally twice per season with one game against Marshall, the WVU men’s basketball team travels to Charleston, WV to play. This year was no different, however Huggins was less than impressed by the turnout Monday night.
“This is the worst crowd here in nine years,” Huggins said after the game. “This was my idea. I wanted to come down here because I know how hard it is to get to Morgantown. I want to come here, but I don’t want to come here and not have a good crowd.”
The official attendance, as reported by the WVU athletic communication office, was 8,101 (the capacity at the Civic Center is 13,500). The interesting aspect of Huggins disapproval is that the attendance last night was not far off from the Mountaineers game against VMI last season in Charleston. The official attendance for that game was 8,102.
The Mountaineers opened their season in Morgantown last Friday with an attendance of 10,120, rare for the school this early in the season. However, Huggins was quick to point out that attendance is much higher in Morgantown stating that 10,000 to 11,000 is becoming the norm at home.
“If you want us to come then come to the game”, Huggins continued about the attendance. “This is a good team, we didn’t bring some dog down here… this is a NCAA tournament team,” he said referring to JMU.
What limits WVU from traveling to other venues is capacity. Outside of the Charleston Civic Center there is no other venue within the state that can accommodate a Mountaineer game.
Huggins did mention fans from the eastern panhandle of West Virginia who voiced it took an extra 2.5 hours than normal to get to the game (it is a 5 hour trip from eastern panhandle to Charleston). The problem with the eastern panhandle is the largest venue is at Shepherd University which can only accommodate 3,500.
While it is unlikely Huggins decides to nix future games in Charleston his displeasure was apparent. Playing Marshall is always a question mark, but that has less to do about attendance and more about the opponent.