SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The loudest “boos” during the Summit League Tournament have come right after the Oral Roberts men’s basketball team’s starting five players are announced.
That’s when the public announcer says head coach for Oral Roberts is Paul Mills. Both times, a chorus of “boos” rang from the crowd at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
The disdain shown by fans comes after Mills’ pre-tournament comments questioning the new 10-team conference tournament and the location of the tournament for the past 15 years.
After Mills’ team improved to 29-4 by beating St. Thomas 70-65, he said he’s not worried about being disliked by fans in Sioux Falls.
“I have no idea. I asked somebody: ‘Why are they booing?’ and they said you’d said it was cold in South Dakota in the winter,” Mills said in the postgame news conference.
“News flash: It’s cold in South Dakota in the winter. So if that makes me disliked, it is what it is. Nobody’s worried about it, though. I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
ORU standout Max Abmas, who became the league’s second-highest scorer of all-time, said the Golden Eagles know their crowd is outnumbered by nearby schools like South Dakota State.
“It was a loud environment,” Abmas said. “We understand coming up here playing in a conference tournament that is really just us – 15 guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. We got some fans up here, too. I’m really just blocking all the outside distractions and then do what it takes to get it done.”
North Dakota State head coach David Richman said his team, which has reached the championship five years in row, embraces the tournament as it is.
“The tournament is here. I’d rather play in front of 10,000 people than nobody, even if they’re against you,” he said after NDSU beat SDSU in the semifinals. “This is college basketball. There’s a spirited atmosphere behind it and Sioux Falls does a first-class job of putting on the event.”