The season is still a few short weeks away, but Lipscomb students and fans caught basketball fever Monday night during the first ever HoopapaLUza at Allen Arena.
The evening was filled with skits, basketball skills contests, pizza and merchandise giveaways and introductions of coaches and players for the both the Bisons and Lady Bisons in addition to an appearance by the cheerleading squad for 2005-2006.
The event was a project of the Lipscomb Student Government Association. Lipscomb athletics marketing director Paul Nance, who helped with the event, thought the turnout was a tremendous success. Nance estimated approximately 750 students were in attendance with total attendance of around 1,000.
Bisons coach Scott Sanderson was excited about the turnout, especially from the students.
"The students were really enthused," Sanderson said. "If we can get a turnout like that for games all year long that will have a major impact on our team. Our guys enjoyed it. The students enjoyed it."
Sanderson credited the turnout from students, and overall fan support, for helping the Bisons land a couple of their home games on CSS this season. Both the Belmont and East Tennessee State games will be televised.
"Those are both going to be good games, but our good student support and our fan base were also factors," Sanderson said. "Our students and fans don't realized the impact they have on our games."
Bisons point guard James Poindexter beat Lady Bisons guard Dana Carrigan in a 3-point shooting contest. There was also a dunk contest. No winner was named, but Bisons center Shaun Durant left an indelible mark on the rim.
Players were also involved in skits that helped to show that even though they are involved with a sport that they take seriously, they are just like every other student.
"Our players practice from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day, but they are going to school and trying to get their degrees like all students," Sanderson said. "It was good for the students to see our guys in a different light. We feel that it is very important that they get involved with the student body."
Lady Bisons Coach Frank Bennett also thought the event was a success. He pointed out that few fans or students left early.
"It was a great turnout," Bennett said. "They seemed to have a lot of fun. It seemed like everybody stayed around for the whole event. At the end after we gave out ice cream students and fans were still hanging around and socializing. We want fans to see Allen Arena as a fun place to be. This was a big step."
Bennett credited Nance; Tina Walker; graduate assistant for marketing and promotions; Luke Flenor, student promotions director; SGA president Randi Johnson and SGA vice-president Baker Luck; and the SGA as an organization, for the success of the event. Bennett agreed with Sanderson that the event offered fans, especially students, the opportunity to see the players in a different atmosphere other than game night.
"It helps students and fans make a connection with our players," said Bennett. "Both teams are trying to be more outgoing in making friends with the student body."
Papa John's provided pizzas, Purity Dairies donated ice cream for all in attendance and Blockbuster Video provided gift cards as door prizes.
The Nashville City Paper featured HoopapaLUza in story in Tuesday's edition.