The Aggie Pack goes wild during the Aggie men's 79-72 victory over UC Riverside at home on Jan. 26. The fans will have plenty to cheer about when ESPN2 comes to town Thursday night to cover the men's basketball game against Big West-leading Long Beach State, the first Aggie home game to be nationally televised. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

Local News

Aggies prep for prime-time exposure

By From page A1 | March 03, 2013

Join the fun

What: UC Davis men’s basketball vs. Long Beach State, televised nationwide on ESPN2

When: 8 p.m. Thursday (doors open at 7 p.m.)

Where: The Pavilion, UCD campus

Tickets: $5 to $15; visit ucdavisaggies.com, call 530-752-AGS1 or visit the box office before the game

What better way to open the floodgates of fan support than announcing that Thursday’s UC Davis men’s basketball game will be covered live on ESPN2?

Those behind the scenes who are planning for the first nationally televised home game at UCD have taken a mind-set perhaps best described with a cliché: “the more, the merrier.”

There’s been nothing but encouragement for the Aggie fan base across the region, state and nation to catch the buzz and plan viewing parties across the country. Back home, preparation has been nonstop for the more than 5,000 cheering fans who are expected to fill The Pavilion.

“It has been unbridled excitement among all of the Aggie faithful,” said Cindy Spiro, senior associate athletics director.

And there is good reason for the fan fever, since this is the first time UCD has hosted a nationally televised basketball game. There have been broadcasts to the region on Comcast SportsNet, but never on this scale.

UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi shared in the revelry, saying the coverage by ESPN2 is an “exciting milestone for our athletics program and the university as a whole” in a recent news release.

The Aggies, who sit at 8-7 in the Big West Conference, will face Long Beach State, the top team in the conference, on the national stage. Doors to The Pavilion open at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the two teams tip off at 8 p.m.

Spiro said there has been a push to mobilize everyone from the Greek community to alumni to other student-athletes to show off their school pride at the game.

The Aggie Pack has been hard at work, distributing fliers and sending email blasts. Spiro said the goal is to pack The Pavilion and give the rest of the nation a taste of “the Division I college basketball experience at its best.” 

Josh Flushman, associate athletics director for UCD, has been tasked with making sure the venue is actually ready for both the crowd and the media.

“As event manager, the more people, the more pressure,” he said. “You think of the Super Bowl, and all the stuff that would go into that.”

He shares in the responsibility of coordinating each entity involved with the national broadcast at The Pavilion, as a means of ensuring a seamless process — one that creates more opportunities of this sort in the future.

“We’ve had to work with ESPN, and their needs,” he said. “We talk about where we’re putting the cameras, how they’re going to do wiring, what their power needs are from the facility. … There’s a whole list of things we have to do.

“Once all that is mapped out, we work with the local fire and police departments for their approval on how things are being laid out. There can’t be any fire hazards, or places where people can trip.”

The technical aspect of preparation, he said, is relatively simple and rather indistinguishable. He added that the only difference the night’s crowd should notice is the presence of television cameras and a great deal more fans.

Thursday’s attendees will enjoy not only top-notch basketball, but plenty of promotions as well, including a body paint contest, a poster contest and a challenge among fraternities and sororities. Winners will receive ski lift tickets and gift cards to local restaurants. In addition, all Jr. Aggie Club members who check in at the information booth will receive a certificate for a free frozen yogurt.

Aggie fans are asked to wear blue.

All of the work that has gone into this, Spiro said, is intended to make for a memorable experience — not just for those tuning in, but for Aggie devotees in the stands.

“This is the fun part of our job,” she said, “when you can provide an experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

More information on the game and its promotions can be found at ucdavisaggies.com/ot/mbb-03-07-13.html. To purchase tickets, which range from $5 to $15, visit ucdavisaggies.com, call 530-752-AGS1 or visit the box office before the game.

Brett Johnson

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