Calipari excited about big crowd
Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:59 PM
By RICK McCANN
HUNTINGTON -- John Calipari, head coach of the No. 2 Memphis Tigers, expressed some excitement about Marshall men's basketball anticipating a sold-out arena for Saturday's game.
And, it's not only because Calipari worked for Marshall athletic director Bob Marcum at Massachusetts.
It's because he's a basketball fan, and perhaps the biggest promoter of Conference USA.
Memphis sells out most places it visits, and regularly fills the 18,400-seat FedExForum for home games.
Marshall needs big crowds too, Calipari said.
"The teams in our league, their fans need to go to the game for Marshall's team, not for Memphis," Calipari said. "We're not there but once a year, and that's every other year. Our fans have to cheer for our teams in every game. There should be 7,000 to 8,000 fans at every Marshall game for that team."
Advance ticket sales for Saturday's 8 p.m. contest are closing in on a sell-out. Marshall announced Thursday afternoon that less than 1,000 tickets were available.
Only $9 general admission tickets remain and they can be purchased by calling 696-4373 or 1-800-THE-HERD; going online at www.herdzone.com; or visiting the ticket office in Cam Henderson Center. Ticket office hours today are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tickets remaining Saturday go on sale at 2 p.m.
Marshall had its last sell-out in the 2005-06 season when a crowd of 9,048 filled Cam Henderson Center for a Memphis game when the Tigers were ranked No. 3.
"It's probably going to be a sell-out," Calipari said. "It's going to be a nut house. It's going to be what they're trying to build for."
Memphis (14-0, 1-0) protected its ranking Wednesday at home, beating East Carolina, 99-58, in its conference opener. Marshall (9-4, 1-0) won at Rice, 66-47.
The Tigers are the highest-ranked team in The Associated Press poll to ever play a men's basketball game in Huntington. The Marshall women's team played host to No. 1 Maryland last season.
Marshall has an all-time record of 7-56 against teams in the AP Top 25, including two clashes with No. 1 Cincinnati (1958-59, 1959-60) and a meeting with No. 1 Houston (1967-68). The Thundering Herd has faced a No. 2 team twice -- Cincinnati (1961-62) and Marquette (1971-72).
The Memphis Tigers in 2005-06 and Cincinnati Bearcats (1960-61) both carried the No. 3 ranking into town.
"It's a great opportunity for our program," said first-year head coach Donnie Jones at Marshall, which has appeared in the AP poll twice in history. "It's great for what we're trying to do."
Marshall was No. 18 for one week during the 1955-56 season and climbed to No. 8 in the 1971-72 rankings. The NCAA tournament team in 1971-72 finished the season No. 12.
Saturday game promotions include the first 2,500 fans receiving "Go Herd" foam noodles and a entertainment by the Zooperstars, a traveling troupe of inflatable mascots.
Chesapeake High School's band will be playing.
Marshall is encouraging its fans to wear green for a good showing on the telecast by Comcast/Charter Southeast Sports (Channel 68 in Huntington).