Creighton get “Dawged” by the Pound

By Gus Bode

Creighton get “Dawged” by the Pound

Student pack Arena with Saluki pride

The crowd of more than 300 SIUC students and other fans stood together cheering and chanting. The sea of maroon and white screamed out “Korver sucks!” and chorused chants of “S I U!”

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Painted faces, painted chests and painted heads duck in and out of the colorful collage of people gathered to cheer on the Salukis.

Then the doors to the SIU Arena opened.

Screaming and clapping erupted and the crowd surged forward to the doors pushing to get good seats in the Dawg Pound.

The sea of fans slowly trickled into the SIUC arena Saturday. And it was still and hour and a half before the game that would end with a 72-60 Saluki victory and hundreds of students rushing the floor.

The highly publicized and awaited SIUC v. Creighton game drew a crowd of 10,014 Saturday. With 2,000 student tickets being sold out in 35 minutes Thursday morning, it was not a surprise that the Dawg Pound extended beyond section L and K at the north end of the arena to the section at the opposite end of the court. Both sides filled with student fans up into the rafters behind both sections.

Suzanne Meyer, a junior in animal science from Quincy, works at the Arena and was checking tickets Saturday.

She arrived to the Arena an hour and a half before the doors opened and said there was already a large crowd of about 100 people waiting to get in.

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“We knew it was going to be madness,” Meyer said. “We were just told to tell people to go slow and to be safe.”

She said that the Arena had extra police and security to help with the crowd and there were also extra ticket collectors to swipe student IDs.

“Everyone who had a student ticket had to have an ID,” Meyer said. “Some students didn’t so we couldn’t let them in. I even had a student offer me $10 to let him in with no ID.”

For students who tried to sit in sections L and K, their ticket stubs were checked to verify that they did in fact have seats in the Dawg Pound. Police and Arena employees filtered students into the gated section to avoid people sneaking into the much sought-after Dawg Pound seats.

Brad Wetzel, a freshman in administration of justice from Tuscola, was in the second row of section K in the Dawg Pound. He was in line at 11 p.m. Wednesday to get his tickets for the game.

He said he and his friend were number nine and 10 in line for the tickets. He waited outside The Arena Saturday from 2:00 p.m. until the doors opened at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s the biggest game of the season,” Wetzel said. “Nothing compares with this, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Season-ticket holders of seats in sections A and U had to fight with the students to take their seats in the “extension of the Dawg Pound.”

The north and south end of the Arena were crowed up to the rafters with students, standing, cheering and holding signs to encourage the players.

“Beware of the Dawgs,” “SIU smokes Jays,” “Bluejays, The Breakfast of Champions,” and “Got Korn?” were phrases written on signs that waved in the air while a life-sized inflatable doll with “Cuck Freighton” written across the chest, crowd-surfed and then disappeared as Arena security made its way into the Pound.

When SIU pulled ahead for the first time, 13 minutes in to the first half, the bleachers shook and the Arena rumbled as hundreds of SIUC students jumped and cheered for their winning Salukis.

Travis Williams, a senior in business management from Naperville, said his friend went to get them tickets at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

He and his friends got to the Arena at 6:20 p.m. to try to get seats in the Dawg Pound.

“The students are the heart and spirit of the Dawg Pound,” Williams said. “And we hate Creighton.”

His feelings for the Blue Jays were shared by most of the student body occupying the Arena.

“Creighton sucks!” and “Korver sucks!” were shouted time and again from the mouths of hundreds of students as the teams battled on the court.

The students seized the opportunity to scream and chant “airball” at Creighton’s forward Kyle Korver, when two of his shots missed the basket completely.

But as the Saluki’s pulled ahead with a few minutes left in the second half, the crowd erupted with pride and excitement as the “SIU” chant intensified and swallowed all other noises in the Arena.

Police and other Arena employees moved near the Dawg Pound, knowing what was to come when SIU clenched the victory against one of its biggest rivals.

After the clock blinked 0:00 and the scoreboard displayed the final score, hundreds of students rushed the court with arms in the air, jumping, hugging and screaming in celebration of the victory.

The sea of maroon and white drained into the middle of the court as students celebrated the game that clinched SIUC the No. 1 seed in the MVC tournament and at least a share of the conference title.

“Being a part of the Dawg Pound is what being a SIU student is all about,” Wetzel said. “It’s what so great about SIU.”

Reporter Kristina Dailing can be reached at [email protected]

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