If the 10,000-seat Alaska Airlines Arena is filled against Arizona on Saturday, then UW will snap a 67-game streak of non-sellouts.
The buzz is building on the University of Washington campus about an old-school sleepover in front of Alaska Airlines Arena.
After the Huskies women’s basketball game on Friday, dozens of members of the Dawg Pack — UW’s student section — plan to camp out overnight in anticipation of the big men’s hoop game the next day.
It’s expected to rain, and the forecast says temperatures will dip to 42 degrees.
Arizona @ Washington, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 13
However, Husky fever is heating up on Montlake.
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For the first time in four years, Washington (15-7, 7-3 Pac-12) is expecting a sellout for Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. contest against No. 23 Arizona (18-5, 6-4).
The Huskies’ last home capacity crowd witnessed a 79-70 win over Arizona on Feb. 18, 2012.
Less than 800 tickets remained Thursday for Saturday’s game, and if the 10,000-seat arena is filled, then UW will snap a 67-game streak of non-sellouts.
During that span, the arena once considered the most intimidating venue in the Pac-12 has been muted while the crowds dwindled.
Since the 2010-11 season when UW averaged 9,650 for home games, attendance dipped in each of the next four seasons before bottoming out to 6,398 last season.
A mere 3,424 were on hand to watch the Huskies escape with a 59-57 win at home against Utah on Jan. 8, 2014.
And a cozy crowd of 2,801 saw UW topple UT Arlington 82-72 on March 13, 2012 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
It’s no coincidence the dip in home attendance mirrors Washington’s four-year NCAA tournament drought. Fans have also griped about a nonconference schedule that hasn’t brought many high-profile teams to Seattle.
“I always try to put everything on us first,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We produce, they’ll be there. That’s how I’ve always felt. We haven’t had as much success. We’ve been very mediocre … the last few years.
“All I know is, now that things are starting to look up for the team, (the fans are) back and that’s really a good thing.”
Two weeks ago, Washington drew a season-high 8,073 fans to Alaska Airlines Arena for their 80-75 overtime loss to Utah.
“That was the first time that I’d seen it like that since my visit here when Isaiah (Thomas) and all of them were here and they were playing Washington State,” senior guard Andrew Andrews said. “It’s great to have the fans back. We hope they continue to keep coming. It makes this place really hard to play in.”
The big home crowds are something players heard about from former Huskies, but had rarely seen.
“We’ve shown them footage of what it’s like, but they’ve not been able to experience it until recently,” Romar said. “They continue to say these are the biggest crowds they’ve played in front of because they just got out of high school.
“And quite frankly, it’s the biggest crowds that Andrews has played in front of during the time that he’s been here. We’ve not had it going as well. But he’s getting to experience this for the first time also, so he’s pretty pumped up about it.”
Prompted by UW sports information director Ashley Walker, Andrews and Husky assistant Will Conroy made a few trips to Washington’s Greek Row to recruit students to the game.
The team’s outreach and the fans’ excitement about a high-scoring squad that includes seven freshmen have been credited for the renewed enthusiasm in Husky basketball.
Just ask Camden Buchanan, a 21-year-old junior from Snohomish majoring in communications, who has sat in the front row at Alaska Airlines Arena for UW games with three Dawg Pack buddies for the past three years.
“Lately the Dawg Pack has been filling up to capacity almost 40 minutes before the game, which is something I have not seen since I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see. The buzz is on campus. The buzz is at the game. Everything is going in the right direction.”
For Friday, Buchanan plans to make a trip home to gather supplies such as tents, sleeping bags and blankets for his first Dawg Pack campout. He’s expecting a crowd of 30-40.
“We’re really going to bundle up,” Buchanan said. “I’m assuming we’re going to have a great group of people out there gathering and trying to keep warm. The buzz is pretty real.”
“I’m expecting a big crowd,” Buchanan said. “The Arizona game is a real special night at Hec Ed, so I’m really hoping we get the sellout. The past crowds have been going crazy the last few home games.
“I’m very excited. It’s going to be one of the best home games ever.”
|Heating up on Montlake|
|Here’s a look at the average attendance for UW men’s basketball games at Alaska Airlines Arena the past six seasons.|