Nov. 21, 2006
By Simit Shah –
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii – Georgia Tech’s first day of competition at the EA Sports Maui Invitational was a big success, as they downed Purdue 79-61. While the 19th-ranked Jackets were the favorite on the court, they were definitely an underdog in the stands.
In the 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center, the Tech faithful were probably outnumbered by at least four-to-one. The disparity was due in large part to the fact that the Purdue football team is playing the University of Hawaii in Honolulu Saturday, which provided incentive for hundreds of Boilermaker supporters to spend the entire week in the islands and scoop up most of the general admission tickets for Monday’s game.
“I was shocked, because when we went to (the official tip-off) dinner last night, there were so many Kentucky fans,” said Lewis Clinch. “Purdue had two whole sections, and they made a lot of noise.”
“That surprised me to see how many fans they had, but I was also surprised by our support,” Javaris Crittenton observed. “They helped out here.”
The Georgia Tech ticket office sold out of their allotment of 135 tickets, which accounted for the sections immediately behind the Tech bench. That’s where Wyman and Judy Lamb were camped. The couple has followed the Jackets on nearly every road trip in the last 25 years.
“This is our fourth time in Hawaii,” said Wyman Lamb, referring to previous trips in 1988 (Honolulu), 1994 (Honolulu) and 1998 (Hilo). “We’ve been to Alaska, San Juan, New York and just about everywhere else. We’ve missed less than 10 games in 25 years.”
“This has been a great trip so far, especially since there’s air conditioning.” his wife added. “They didn’t have that in Hilo.”
The tournament also attracted fans that normally don’t have a chance to see Tech play on regular basis. Dr. Buddy Flinn and his wife Donna, who started planning their trip last spring, sat right across the court from Tech’s bench.
The couple traveled from their home in Memphis last Thursday and provided plenty of vocal support against Purdue. “We couldn’t pass up a chance to see both Tech and Memphis,” said Dr. Flinn, a 1976 graduate who was a varsity swimmer. “We invited our son (a sophomore at Tech), but he couldn’t miss class.”
Though outnumbered by a large margin, the Tech faithful made plenty of noise, which reverberated around the tiny arena.
“It takes you back to high school when the fans are right on top of you,” said Clinch. “You can feel it. Plus, when you run off the court at halftime or at the end of the game, you can take a look and see who is there. It’s good to see your fans there to support you through thick and thin. They cheered when we were down in the first half, and they kept it going in the second half when we got up. We’re very appreciative of that.”