UNIVERSITY PARK -- In what has been a resurgent season in his second year at SMU, men's head basketball coach Larry Brown takes every opportunity possible to make sure people know the fans of Moody Coliseum deserve an assist.
"We owe everthing to our fans," Brown said. "They've been phenomenal. I think the kids appreciate it. The coaches appreciate it. We're just fortunate to be able to play in this kind of atmosphere."
The Mustangs have notched 11 victories in 12 games at Moody this season. Including their finale against California in the third round of the NIT Wednesday, Moody was sold out nine times this season, a school record.
The crowd is colorful, loud, and creates an atmosphere Brown couldn't have envisioned in year two of his reclamation project.
The student section is nicknamed "the mob." Some come dressed as crustaceans, elves, and other costumes that once hung forgotten in closets, but have become in vogue at Moody. Anything to help the team, even it it means looking foolish.
All appearances aside, players say the student section's antics create something they can feel and use to their benefit.
"I think it plays a big part," said senior forward Sean Williams. "Those five- or six-point runs turn into 10- or 12-point runs with the crowd."
SMU players have admitted they weren't looking forward to playing in the NIT, but part of the reason they've done a 180 on their NCAA tornament snub was three more chances to play in front of their raucous home crowd.
"In the grand scheme of things, at the end, it's all worked out," said guard Nick Rusell. "I'm glad to be back in Moody again. I'm sure everybody else is, too."
And as "the mob" and company make one last stand against Cal for the right to play in the NIT final four, Russell has this message: "Just thank you for all the support. That's what it comes down to, and they make it a real home-court advantage."