'0-Zone' played a role in Cards' defeat

Todd Bella

Staff Reporter

Athens, Ohio -- The self-proclaimed leader in green face painted shouted, "Is that not a scoreboard?" with under two minutes to go.

"Yes that's the scoreboard," the Ohio student section known as "The O-Zone" responded.

"Is that not 81?" the leader asked, with Ohio leading Ball State 81-67.

"Yes, that's 81."

"Is that not 67?"

"Yes, that's 67."

"Is that not the winning team? Is that not the losing team?"

Then the crowd acknowledged both benches by pointing back and forth.

"Winning team, losing team, winning team, losing team."

"You've got the crowd right on (top of) you and can hear everything they're saying, no matter where you are," Ball State guard Patrick Jackson said. "They we're really loud. That's a good setup (Ohio) has."

The setup has most of the Ohio student section occupying the entire lower level on one side of the Convocation Center.-√°According to Ohio Media Relations Director Jim Stephan, there are 571 seats in the lower section, "even though they all stand."

"It costs $10 for an O-Zone T-shirt, and they get the same seat for every home game," Stephen said.

Stephen added that a number of students waited outside up to five hours at the beginning of the season, assuring themselves prime seats.

"I think the home court (advantage) is huge," Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea said after the game.

Several students were without their white and green O-Zone shirts, but instead adorned painted chests. Others wore green wigs or held homemade signs.

According to Ball State head coach Tim Buckley, however, it was Ohio's players who made the difference in the game.

"Brandon Hunter was a factor, Steve Esterkamp was a factor, Patrick Flomo was a factor," Buckley said. "The guy who's about 30 pounds overweight in the fourth row with the "O" on his shirt -- no factor."

Hunter, who led Ohio with 30 points, said the team feeds off the energy from the student section.

"It's a real big advantage," Hunter said. "All the white T-shirts with the green Os, that's lovely.-√°It can really get you motivated to play."


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