Thursday, June 18, 2009

"The West Australian" Articles on Wildcats' Uni Loonies in 1999/2000

How to make attendance increase 22% in one season

Newspaper articles about the Perth Wildcats in the 1999/2000 season.
Survival Priority For Titans
Dave Hughes
492 words
12 April 2000
The West Australian
Copyright West Australian Newspapers Limited, all rights reserved.
LAST roll of the dice for the Victoria Titans? Uh-uh. Try last roll of the hand grenade.
Expect an explosive reaction from the Titans to last Friday's six-point loss to the Perth Wildcats when the best-of-three National Basketball League grand finals resume at the Perth Entertainment Centre tonight.
Perth, 15-1 in front of its fanatical supporters this season, is shooting for a record fourth championship title.
The Titans, though, are shooting for survival - and if anyone can appreciate the consequences of desperation, it is the Wildcats. Tonight's antagonists have had to extricate themselves from awkward situations in the elimination and semi-finals.
Both fought back from a game down in the first round of the play-offs and both survived a hostile environment to win the deciding semi-final.
Impressive as it is, the Wildcats' home-court record does not guarantee them victory against a team that has consistently proved its resilience this season.
The Perth players acknowledged this by keeping their emotions in check after last Friday's hard-fought win at Melbourne Park.
They know the Titans will be a tougher proposition tonight because it is unlikely that players like Darryl McDonald, Jason Smith and Ben Pepper will have another off-night.
Victoria coach Brian Goorjian knows as well as anyone that improved defence and rebounding are critical to his side extending the series to a decider on Friday.
The Titans got hammered on the backboards in game one and it was Perth that produced the only significant period of sustained defence, holding the Titans to 12 points in the third term, while scoring 22 themselves.
Despite Perth's caution, the Titans' task is ... well ... titanic.
Just as several Victoria players will expect to make a more significant contribution, so, too, will Wildcats captain Andrew Vlahov.
Titans forward Tony Ronaldson lit him up like a display window for 25 points and it is inconceivable the Perth captain will allow that to re-occur.
The Wildcats will also enjoy their own rims. They do not find Melbourne Park a shooter-friendly environment and will expect to record a better percentage tonight.
Equally, the Wildcats will enjoy their home crowd. The Uni Loonies and Hawaiian Boys create an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams and the bedlam they create is sufficiently infectious to spread to the back row.
Victoria will have to disrupt the Paul Rogers-Ricky Grace connection that dominated game one. Rogers, who on Monday became the first Perth representative to win the league's Most Valuable Player honour, should again dominate the keyway and Grace's ability to control the tempo is pivotal.
Although Perth will want to meet Victoria's assault head on, it must do so with controlled aggression. Foul trouble nearly cost it game one, with Grace and Vlahov teetering on the brink with five fouls and the Titans taking 14 more free throws.
How'd You Go?
Dave Hughes
573 words
10 April 2000
The West Australian
Copyright West Australian Newspapers Limited, all rights reserved.
THE Uni Loonies have the better name, but the Hawaiian Boys have an impromptu Melbourne chapter.
The two groups sit behind the baskets at either end of the court at Perth Wildcats home games and give considerable stick to opposing teams in general and one player in particular.
The Loonies, from Murdoch, win the award for the best sledge for their "Rillie is a tape worm" chant, directed at West Sydney's skinny, shaven-headed shooter during the elimination finals.
UWA's Hawaiian Boys take the sartorial honours, if only for catching the eye of Melbourne-based Wildcats fans during telecasts from the Entertainment Centre.
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How'd You Go?
Dave Hughes
574 words
1 February 2000
The West Australian
Copyright West Australian Newspapers Limited, all rights reserved.
IT'S official. The bounce is back in basketball, especially in Perth.
The National Basketball League recently completed its mid-season audit of crowd numbers, something which in recent years has caused officials to shudder violently and reluctantly peep at the findings through their fingers.
This summer, however, the attendance figures were accompanied, not by groans, but by the popping of corks. The increase from last season was 15 per cent.
Admittedly, the gain was achieved in part by the near sell-out for the opening of the monster Olympic venue at Homebush in Sydney and the arrival in the league of Cairns.
And nowhere have crowds risen more than at the Perth Entertainment Centre. The Wildcats have been playing to a 22 per cent bigger audience since Andrew Vlahov and Luc Longley bought a controlling interest in the club and set about winning back the fans.
No Place Like Home For The Wildcats
Dave Hughes
485 words
15 January 2000
The West Australian
Copyright West Australian Newspapers Limited, all rights reserved.
When Andrew Vlahov and Luc Longley bought a controlling stake in the Wildcats last August, they determined that one of their key points to revitalise the moribund club was to emphasise a basic tenant of professional sport: win at home.
The considerable home-court advantage the Wildcats once enjoyed had all but evaporated. The frenzied, house-full atmosphere which helped the Wildcats to 12-1 records at home in 1991 and 1993 had faded to the indifference of a half-empty stadium and a barely tolerable 7-6 mark in Perth last season.
To rectify this, Longley suggested that ticket prices be cut to lure back the families and that free tickets be given to several hundred local students who, in essence, would be required to sing for their supper. Loudly.
Longley was seeking to recreate the crowd frenzy of US college basketball, hence the formation of the Uni Loonies from Murdoch, who sit behind one basket, and the Hawaiian Gang from UWA, who sit behind the other.
The Uni Loonies frequent the same website where they plan their game-night chants and activities.
They target a specific opposition player and harass him from the time he steps on the court to warm up to his final exit to the change room.
"It's got to be intimidating for opponents," said Vlahov.
"The students have been fantastic. They get everyone else going and the place is as noisy as it was when I first came into the league."
Only one NBL team has been unbeaten at home in the 1990s - the now defunct Magic, who went 12-0 in Melbourne in 1992.
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Our article about the Loonies here

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