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Big 4 must think bigger than throwback uniforms

We at the BonaBlog applaud whoever is behind promoting Big 4 basketball in Western New York. To be certain, it is under-appreciated and sometimes unknown sports commodity to even casual fans in our region.

It’s a shame that Buffalo’s only sports talk radio station, WGR 550, rarely reports even scores of Big 4 teams, never mind talk about area college basketball at any in-depth level.

We’re happy to see a Big 4 doubleheader return to First Niagara Center. It’s awesome that the teams will be wearing throwback Buffalo Braves uniforms. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea. Hopefully it will create more buzz around the Big 4 and bring more people to the arena on Nov. 29.

If the games bring in more than 6,000 fans, that would a success, albeit a small victory.

If the Big 4 wants to continue to build momentum in metropolitan Buffalo it has to do better than throwback NBA uniforms and gimmicky preseason teams (Phil Valenti, of Canisius, made the second team after averaging 5 points and less than 4 rebounds last season).

The Big 4 has to go big. Residents of Western New York have proven they will come out to watch big-time college basketball. The FNC is full for NCAA tournament games. A good crowd came out to watch the Bonnies face a nationally-ranked Boston College team in 2002. There are many more examples.

The Big 4 and its schools have to find a way to attract name opponents to the arena for buzzworthy doubleheaders. We’re thinking Canisius vs. Buffalo at 5 p.m. followed by Syracuse vs. St. Bonaventure at 7:30 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Such circumstances would bring far more exposure to the Big 4 schools in Western New York and beyond.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Attracting big schools away from the safe havens of their home arenas for non-conference games is a tall task, some might even say an outlandish proposition.

But both Syracuse and Pittsburgh have come to play in Buffalo in recent years. It benefits those schools beyond basketball to play in Buffalo.

The next task for the Big 4 and its schools is zeroing in prominent basketball opponents that might gain from the exposure of playing in front of 12-15,000 fans in Western New York and then negotiating a price that is right for both sides.

It will likely take some sacrifices from SBU, UB, Canisius and Niagara. But sometimes that’s what it takes on the journey to building something people can get excited about.

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  1. Rick

    Great idea - double headers of the 60’s drew national powers and big crowds ….