Top 8 Traditions in College Basketball

23 Mar, 2015

basketball on court
In every sport it’s always been beneficial to play on your home court, but nowhere does it seem to be more of a factor than in college basketball. With student sections and pep bands, school colors and fight songs, the college basketball experience is unlike anything else in American sports. Throughout the country, schools have perfected the art of achieving a Home Court Advantage, though some fans have raised the bar and created rituals and traditions that place them in a category all their own. Here are a few of our favorites.

St. Joseph’s University – The Hawk

The mascot for St. Joseph’s University is the embodiment of the school’s motto “The Hawk Will Never Die.” It represents this mindset by flapping its wings… and never stopping. And we mean NEVER! For over 50 years this mascot has been flapping its wings during games, and not once does it ever take a break, not even at halftime.  If you see the Hawk at a sporting event, school function or on TV, it’ll be flapping its wings, over and over and over again. ESPN once calculated the Hawk flaps its wings around 3500 times per game. The Hawk has become such a big part of school lore that the student chosen to be inside the costume receives an endowed scholarship from the University and is considered to be a full member of the basketball team.

Kansas University – Rock Chalk Jayhawk Chant

If you’re ever lucky enough to attend a Jayhawks game in Lawrence, KS, you’ll be treated to one of the most memorable and spooky traditions in all of college basketball. First adopted by the school in 1886, the world famous “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk” chant is a spectacle to behold. The entire facility gets quiet before slowly chanting “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk, KU” three times, followed a faster version of the chant and then by the crowd going wild. This chant was created by Chemistry professor E. H. S. Bailey while returning to Lawrence from a conference with some colleagues. His original idea was “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, Go KU,” but was changed to its current incarnation in order to reflect the area’s large amounts of Chalk Rock.

University of Tennessee – Rocky Top    

Originally a hit country / bluegrass song written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by The Osborne Bros in 1967, “Rocky Top” tells the tale of a city-dweller’s longing to go back to his simpler life in the hills of Tennessee. The tune struck such a chord with students at the University of Tennessee that it has become their unofficial fight song and a game-day tradition. The Bryants have even given UT permission to use “Rocky Top” at sporting events as “often as success on the field dictates.” Witnessing thousands of students sing this fast passed and light-hearted song in unison is a sight to behold; you may even find yourself singing and dancing along.

Taylor University – Silent Night Game

In the late 80’s, an assistant coach for the Taylor University Men’s Basketball team came up with a novel idea to try out on the Friday night before Final Exams.  By the mid-90’s, it had become one of the greatest college sporting traditions in the country. Dubbed the “Silent Night Game,” students, dressed in everything from pajamas to Christmas costumes, sit in complete silence from the announcements of the starting lineups until the home team scores their 10th point. When that point is scored, the crowd erupts into chaos for about 90 seconds or until order can be restored. On the rare occasion Taylor can score 100 points in the game, the whole process begins again. To cap it all off, the students join together to sing “Silent Night” near the end of the game. In an odd occurrence, the same player scored the 10th point of the Silent Night Game in three consecutive years.

Duke University – Cameron Crazies

Many universities have awesome student sections, but nobody can top Duke University’s Cameron Crazies. Known throughout college basketball as one of the toughest places to play, Cameron Indoor Stadium features a 1,200 seat student section packed to capacity by enthusiastic Blue Devils fans. This is the student section that all others are measured against, known for their outrageous outfits, organized chants, and clever pranks. The Crazies are noted as having invented the “air ball” chant in the 70s, and more recently the “sit down” chant when an opposing player fouls out. This student section is so notorious that some networks have asked to air Duke games on a longer delay for fear one of their chants may not meet broadcast standards! In addition to their in-game antics, the Crazies have also created an area outside the stadium known as Krzyewskiville where fans camp out before games.

Indiana University – The Under 8 Time Out        

While nobody likes television timeouts, Indiana University has turned one of these media enforced, mandatory stoppages of play into a nationally recognized “Greatest College Timeout.” For over thirty years, during the first timeout taken with under eight minutes to play in the second half, the IU Band plays the “William Tell Overture” while from out of the tunnel, cheerleaders race onto the court waving 18 flags, spelling out INDIANA HOOSIERS. As the Overture comes to a close, the band transitions into the Indiana Fight Song which ends just in time for the timeout horn to blow as the crowd yells “I-U” in unison.

UCLA – Frisbee Cheer

During the lean years of UCLA basketball in the 70s, after legendary coach John Wooden retired, the university needed something to get fans back into the games. That’s where Lawrence H. “Frisbee” Davis stepped up to the plate and created a tradition that has stood the test of time. Frisbee was a huge Bruins fan and wanted to create a ritual for him and his buddies to do at a game. After witnessing a call-and-response cheer at a local water polo game, Frisbee knew he had the answer. Frisbee and his friends began leading this slightly tweaked cheer before every Bruins home game and eventually it caught on. This chant, which begins with “Is this a basketball?” and ends with “U-C-L-A, Fight! Fight! Fight!,” has become a popular pre-game ritual ever since.

Utah State University – I Believe Cheer

One of the more recent additions to this list is the Utah State University student section and their raucous rendition of a popular soccer tradition, the “I Believe That We Will Win” pre-game cheer. The Utah State University Men’s Basketball Team plays their home games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, which features a 4,000 seat student section and has been called one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play. This rowdy section of students keeps up on all the dirt on opposing players thanks to a publication called “The Refraction” which helps organize chants and cheers, including the popular “Winning Team, Losing Team” chant that erupts when a win is all but guaranteed.

What is your favorite college basketball tradition?

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