The fan impact at basketball games, or any sporting event for that matter, can be misunderstood by a large margin. Not only can fans bring some power to the players, but they can help turn the tide of the game in the Knights' favor.
"The fan section really helped out a lot," said junior Staphon Blair after the team's triple overtime victory against Tulane.
In a facility that's at max capacity when there are 9,465 seats filled, UCF is only managing to bring out an average of 3,841 fans per game, making UCF ninth out of 12 teams in the American Athletic Conference for attendance. It hampers in comparison with last year's 5,298 fans per game that were drawn through the turnstiles by the likes of former players Isaiah Sykes and Tristan Spurlock.
The 5,298 fans per game were good enough to rank UCF's basketball team 96th in attendance among NCAA Division I teams during the 2013-14 season, according to the NCAA website. No. 95 Southern Methodist University pulls in 5,653 fans per game, despite having just 11,000 students enrolled — a fraction of the 60,00 at UCF.
Memphis and Connecticut are leading the AAC in attendance this year with 13,702 and 11,195 per game. Though CFE can't hold that many people, players agree it would be nice if more fans came out to show the squad some support because it helps amplify their energy on the court.
"It's great when they come out and support us, and they're loud and rowdy," freshman B.J. Taylor said after the team's win over Tulane. "It just gives us more energy."
At this time last season, the Knights stood with an 8-3 record at home compared with this season's 8-4 home record.
With only one game in hand last season, why the drop in attendance?
"Can we get T-shirts every game, please?" head coach Donnie Jones joked after the team's triple OT win. "Hopefully we can give them that kind of excitement every night; that'll make them want to come back. And obviously we need to give them a T-shirt every night."
UCF wrapped up a two-game stand on the road on Monday and will be back in Orlando to take CFE's hardwood at 2 p.m. on Sunday when it plays Cincinnati.
Jarrod Heil is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Find him on Twitter@JHeil11.