Basketball

Shades of Grey

It’s a bit late in coming since the game was a week ago, but it’s still worth commenting on.

The topic is Division III basketball, and in this case, a recent game at Illinois Wesleyan University, home of the Titans.

There are those, and I have many friends that fall in this category, that just don’t like college basketball in the “non-scholarship” division.

“They aren’t athletic enough,” I’ve heard them say.

“They’ll never make a professional team.”

“I like the atmosphere in a big arena.”

It’s the last comment I especially don’t agree with.

Although crowds vary in size at every athletic venue, it’s always an intimate and electric environment at IWU when a conference team comes to town.

On this night, it was Augustana and their colorful coach Grey Giovanine.

Grey is a former Division I coach at Lamar University that decided to take the Augustana job for family reasons.  The following appeared in a Quad Cities Times article about Giovanine in November, 2008:

“My children were 5, 3 and 1, and I was never home, and I knew it,” Giovanine said.  “The Augie job opened, and it was something I thought would be a difference in quality of life.  Either I was going to try to get the LSU or Texas A&M job or I was going to spend more time with my family and still enjoy coaching.”

Since being at Augustana, Grey has been an enjoyable figure for opposing fans to watch on the sidelines.

In past years, I’ve seen Grey get very excited towards the guys in striped shirts.  I was told once the over/under on him ripping his jacket off is six minutes, and this event is generally precipitated by an official’s whistle.  On this night, he made it past minute eight, and was actually somewhat serene most of the evening.

This is not to suggest that he’s irrational or a bad coach; in fact, I applaud his energy.  There were times I felt he was working as hard on the sidelines as the players on the floor.

Judging by Augustana’s success in the past several years, his methods are obviously successful.

At Illinois Wesleyan, the fans are engaged in the action.  It always entertains me to discover how many assigned seats there are in an arena that only sells general admission tickets.

For long term fans (and there are many), they seem to gravitate to the same seating areas.  I’ve been to games where I got dirty looks for sitting in a spot that was apparently “reserved” for someone else.  I guess this suggests implied reserved seating, even if their ticket stub doesn’t say so.  That’s part of the allure – fans that have been so loyal for so long, they have a personal ownership stake in the arena itself.

Ever see your grandfather do the “fist bump” with another fan?

If he attended an Illinois Wesleyan game, that just might happen.

On this night, Grey’s Augustana team got off to a slow start, and IWU ran away early.  They led by double figures most of the game, until Augustana went on a 15-0 run late and got as close as five.

Grey had an occasional discussion with the officials during the contest.

The fans, especially IWU students standing directly across from the Augustana bench, had an occasional discussion with (at) Grey.

And the game was very competitive in the closing minutes.

In the end, the home team held on for a 71-64 victory.  The rematch is scheduled for February 17th.

There’s another game in town that night at the Division I school.  But I’m going to Augustana.

And regarding Grey’s coat…I’m going with the under this time.

Photos:  All photos are copyright protected and the property of Jeff Findley.

Grey Giovanine appears in all photos except the fan photo, which includes unnamed spectators at the event.

2 Comments

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  • Ryan Lakin

    February 3, 2010

    I like it… believe me, in some sports even it is a perceived higher level, it doesn’t mean that there are more fans or a better environment. I have also been to DI games where you could hear the crickets chirp.

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