Only in the unlikely event of a capacity crowd for the regular season finale will the Colorado men’s basketball program avoid an unwelcome milestone.
A disappointing season on the floor has led to a disappointing showing at the ticket office for the 2022-23 Buffs. Now a full decade removed from the record-setting crowds of the 2012-13 season, CU is on pace to see the lowest final attendance figure since Tad Boyle took over as head coach ahead of the 2010-11 season.
Heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against Utah (3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network), the Buffs have averaged 6,640 fans in 15 dates at the CU Events Center. Excluding the mostly fan-less COVID season of 2020-21, the lowest previous average regular season attendance under Boyle was 6,900 in 2010-11, his first season at CU.
Technically, the Buffs still could inch past that 6,900 mark on Saturday, but it would require what would be a season-high crowd of at least 10,813 to see the ninth-place Buffs take on Pac-12 rival Utah. Capacity at the Events Center is 11,064.
After averaging a program-record 10,392 in 2012-13 (with a record seven sellouts), the regular-season attendance dipped each of the next six seasons, albeit only slightly at first. CU averaged more than 9,600 in 2013-14 and 2014-15 before dropping to 8,540 in 2015-16. Attendance continued to slide the next three seasons — 7,772 in 2016-17, 7,449 in 2017-18 and 7,185 in 2018-19 — before rebounding slightly in 2019-20 (7,979) with a team destined for the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled at the start of the pandemic.
Following the pandemic, last year’s average regular season attendance of 7,141 was the lowest of the Boyle era since his first season, but with popular senior Evan Battey and eventual NBA draft pick Jabari Walker leading the way, CU still enjoyed eight games with at least 7,000 fans last year. CU has hosted that many fans just twice this year — a season-high 10,033 against Colorado State on Dec. 8, and 8,680 for Sunday’s loss against No. 4 UCLA.
Certainly the inconsistent performance of the team can be cited for some of the sub-par attendance figures — last week’s series against the Los Angeles teams certainly would have seen bigger numbers if the Buffs were in postseason contention — but the usual above-the-curve turnouts for teams like Oregon and Washington didn’t happen this season. CU also didn’t play nationally-ranked Arizona at home, yet the lackluster attendance has been on display since opening night. The crowd of 5,388 to watch the season opener against UC Riverside on Nov. 7 was the smallest opening attendance mark of the Boyle era.
On Wednesday, incoming CU recruit Cody Williams was named a second-team Naismith High School All-American. Named to the McDonald’s All-American team last month, Williams is ranked as the No. 8 overall recruit in the class of 2023 by 247Sports.com. Williams, a 6-foot-8 forward, will lead his Perry High School squad into the Arizona Open Division state title game on Saturday.
Williams is the Buffs’ first five-star recruit since David Harrison in the class of 2001.
In addition to graduate transfers Jalen Gabbidon and Ethan Wright, Saturday’s Senior Day festivities also will recognize walk-on Cody Mains, plus team manager Henry Frick and video assistant Chad O’Connor. … CU will host a food drive at Saturday’s game to benefit Community Food Share. Collection bins for non-perishable food items will be set up at each entrance to the Events Center.
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