Story By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion and Lady Lion basketball teams took center court in Rec Hall on Thursday night in front of a crowd of more than 3,500 students and community members who are getting ready for another season of Penn State basketball.
The second-annual Hoops Madness began with performances by the independent student dance organization RamSquad and the Pride of the Lions Pep Band, followed by an eight-person Knock-Out contest to decide the contestant who would later have an opportunity to shoot a half court shot and possibly win $10,000.
Soon after, the bleachers started to shake as Coquese Washington's defending Big Ten champion Lady Lions were introduced. Junior forward Talia Grant addressed the audience and told them to "be loud, be proud and be at the games because we need you."
The crowd stayed on its feet as the men's team came running onto the floor next. One by one, the Nittany Lions threw T-shirts into the stands and greeted Nittany Nation. Senior guard Tim Frazier got on the microphone at the preseason event and echoed that Lady Lions' message about getting fans to come to as many games as possible.
And then, he danced.
Led by members of the Penn State Lionettes, Frazier and the entire Nittany Lion basketball team performed a line dance to a mash-up of several of today's popular hits. Fans roared in mixtures of applause and laughter as the team faded into one line and gave their best shot at a kick-line too.
Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill and Allen Robinson of the Penn State football team were introduced next, and took seats at the judges' table for the Dunk Contest that the men's team was about to put on. The Lions judged five of their fellow-athletes' as they twisted and turned and skied toward the basket. After some deliberation, the Nittany Lion football standouts chose Frazier as the winner.
Next, Penn State football head coach Bill O'Brien emerged from behind the bleachers and spoke to the crowd. He got the students cheering with a loud 'We Are' chant and told them to stay loud throughout the entire basketball season.
"We've got to create a home court advantage at the [Bryce Jordan Center]," said O'Brien. "We need to create the same kind of home field atmosphere that we do at our football games at these men's and women's basketball games."
And before the teams and coaches left center-court to Penn State student-athlete musical talent Mike Wallace and headline rapper Big Sean, men's basketball head coach Pat Chambers had a few last words to leave with the group.
"Penn State Basketball needs to feel that enthusiasm," Chambers said. "We need that homecourt advantage.