Tonightâ€™s game will be the second chance for fans to experience several changes the Indiana athletics department has made to the pre-game and in-game festivities surrounding the menâ€™s basketball games.
Thereâ€™s a new music track prior to games and a short ceremony conducted by the cheerleaders meant to engage fans. Thereâ€™s also more interaction during games.
Assistant athletic director for external operations Frank Cuervo sat down with Herald-Times reporter Chris Korman to discuss the changes.
QUESTION: Can you explain the process you went through while making these changes?
ANSWER: We have traditionally had a very classic, collegiate feel. And thatâ€™s great. Our fans like that. I think our players, our coaches, our supporters have come to expect that. But in the same respect I think itâ€™s a good idea to take the best of the best of what others are doing, whatâ€™s new and out there, and combine it with what we do and have the best overall feel. Itâ€™s kinda two different schools of thought. There are some of our fans that come strictly 100 percent for basketball. And for those fans, thatâ€™s still there. The basketball is still there. But then we also have a sect of our fans, namely our students â€” 50 percent of Assembly Hall is students â€” that want a little bit more out of their entertainment dollar or their time. So we try to bring a little bit more to the table, whether itâ€™s popular music thatâ€™s on the radio today or doing fun things on the court or even silly things like doing the wave. Itâ€™s another way to engage fans and get them into it.
QUESTION: How did you decide what changes to make?
ANSWER: Itâ€™s a copycat business. You see something you like and you implement it. Other things you just take ideas or have original thoughts and tweak it to make it fit here. Thereâ€™s no magic to the process. The other important thing is that itâ€™s ongoing. Itâ€™s not an issue of peeling back all the layers and reassembling it and saying â€œWell, weâ€™re done.â€ Thereâ€™s always going to be things that change. You want to keep it fresh. Probably the worst thing you can do is to have something the same game in and game out. Your fans know what to expect, thereâ€™s no element of surprise.
QUESTION: What has the reaction been like so far?
ANSWER: I think a lot of people liked it. They recognized that there were certainly some new elements. There are some folks that were set in their ways and liked it one certain way and itâ€™s going to take some time to get acclimated. Coach (Kelvin) Sampson has a good line: Everybody wants progress, but nobody wants change. Thatâ€™s the thing. We used to play basketball on a dirt floor but that obviously changed, and thatâ€™s for the better. We feel like there are ways to keep the classic, collegiate feel, implement some of the new items and make it the best of both worlds.