East Tennessee State University Basketball is experiencing a season like no other.
"This is the first time in school history that we (got) this deep into the league schedule with both programs undefeated," Associate Athletic Director for Communications Michael White said.
Yes, until Jan. 25, when the women's team was defeated by Mercer, both the men's and women's ETSU basketball teams have played a completely undefeated season.
This exceptional season has not gone unnoticed.
With the success of both teams, attendance has increased at both teams' games. In fact, with over 4,000 spectators attending the games held in Freedom Hall, the men's basketball team averages the highest attendance numbers in the Southern Conference.
The average crowd for an ETSU men's basketball game is just over 3,900.
Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis faculty member Don Good says that he's noticed the increase in numbers. He says that over the almost 10 years that he's been attending games, the crowds this season seem more enthusiastic.
This is something he attributes to not only the hard work of the team but men’s coach Steve Forbes and women’s coach Brittney Ezell, who do more than just coach. He says the coaches and players bring a bit of style to the games.
"Coach Ezell especially really knows how to get the crowd into it. Her players do a great job of relating to the fans and give us not just a great game but a great show," Good said.
And with the growth and enthusiasm of the basketball games, that energy seems to be bleeding into other student activities.
Clint Long, a saxophone player in the pep band, says that the smaller band was once begging people to come play at games, but now has to hold auditions and create a schedule so that those who want to play has an opportunity.
"I feel like those of us in pep band have really bonded over basketball games because it's such a fun experience," Long said.
It's for this reason that even though he can't play at all the games, he still attends because he knows it's going to be a good game.
Michael White also pointed out that both teams' seasons fit into the "overall momentum" that the athletics program at ETSU has right now.
"Whether it be opening the new football stadium, opening up the new facilities over the last several years, hiring a new football coach in Randy Sanders, having fantastic head coaches for both of our basketball programs, also other hires that have been made for coaching staff over the past year, there's just a lot of good things happening with ETSU athletics right now," White said.
Basketball season is still far from over. The Bucs will play a few games this weekend and still have some highly anticipated games coming up next month. For a full schedule and to keep up with athletics news, go to etsubucs.com.