March 11, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta has long been known in the sports world as a golf town, but you can now add basketball to the list thanks to Augusta State hosting the first part of the NCAA Division 2 tournament.
It means a lot to ASU, but the biggest thing this tournament has brought is the community coming out to cheer on the Jaguars...and blue fever is starting to spread.
"It's more of an excitement," Mark Ludec said. "The crowd is just bigger and better than anything else."
Mark is part of ASU's Blue Crew. They're out at every Jaguar basketball game spreading blue fever.
"It just started with 30 or 40 of us in the student section in the earlier games cheering them on," he said.
But blue fever is spreading, thanks to a good team and also to having home court advantage for this year's NCAA Division 2 tournament.
That's what brought Steve Copeland and his sons to an ASU game for the first time.
"My sons, both of them play basketball and they wanted to come see them play," Steve said. "I'm really excited. I've never seen them play before...I think they can win every single game so long as they hustle."
But blue fever is nothing new for longtime fan Floyd Kluszka.
I've never missed a game. I've seen them all," he said.
He's been at every game since 1995...but he says this is what he's been waiting for.
"I love it. I'm happy to see these fans. Before, if we had 50 or 60 people, we had a crowd."
The fast-paced action coupled with community support is what athletic director Clint Bryant says is a slam dunk for Augusta.
"I think this basketball program is not only good for Augusta State but it's good for our community at large," he said. "We have all walks of life coming out. They're looking to the players as role models...they're getting autographs."
Sadly, ASU lost tonight by only one point, 79-78. But the school and the team gained a lot from this tournament.
Now they have a dedicated fan base ready to cheer them on to victory next year.