Chad Markulics, Black Shoe Diaries
The men's and women's basketball teams kicked off the season in style with a little help from Big Sean.
While rapper Big Sean was the main draw for much of the turnout, Nittany Nation and the Penn State hoops marketing department put together an entertaining night to mark the beginning of the 2012-13 basketball season.
After a game of knockout for the chance to win ten thousand dollars (high drama!) and the launching of hundreds of t-shirts into the crowd, the Lady Lions were introduced, and after a short speech from junior forward Talia East (who also launched a t-shirt that landed in the hands of the author), the men's intros followed. As expected, Tim Frazier received the loudest ovation and the senior co-captain addressed the crowd pleading for fan support this season. The men then performed their 'traditional' dance routine. If you consider dancing to "Gangnam Style" a good test of fitness, then Sasa Borovnjak looked fully recovered from his knee injury.
A dunk contest judged by Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill and Allen Robinson was the highlight of the night (I mean, if Big Sean isn't your musical preference). Ross Travis, Donovon Jack, Akosa Maduegbunam and Frazier were your participants, and the senior All-B1G performer took home the title with a self-alley-ooped windmill slam. That was the extent of the actual basketball at the event.
Oh, and Bill O'Brien was there (pictured above. Trust me, that's him in the blue there). He took the mic after the dunk contest and echoed Frazier's sentiments, calling for a "real home court advantage" in 2012-13 for Pat Chambers' squad. He also asked the students to pack Beaver Stadium before kickoff for tomorrow's clash with Ohio State.
I ducked out soon after O'Brien addressed the crowd (I dragged a non-PSU/non-Big Sean fan along, and he had seen enough), but according to twitterers in the crowd, the performances by Penn State's own Mike Wallace and Big Sean -- who donned a Penn State jersey -- fulfilled the crowd's expectations, capping a successful evening for Penn State hoops.
Hoops Madness serves as an important infomercial for the program, perhaps more so than at any other major-conference program in the country. It will ultimately take a winning team year in, year out for the men's basketball program to see a consistently packed BJC, but in the meantime the staff is pulling out all the stops to put asses in the seats -- and it's hard not to root for anyone who's trying this hard.
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