On Thursday, Oct. 18, men’s and women’s basketball kicked off their season with their Primetime Preview. The event included a meet-and-greet with both teams, a three-point contest between the men and women, a slam dunk competition, hot shot between the two teams and two fans and scrimmages.
“I think it was really good for our players to get in front of fans for the first time. Us (the men’s team) having eight new players and integrating them with the returning players was a lot of fun. It was a great break from normal practice. We had been kind of grinding against each other at practice, and it was fun to get away from that,” said men’s basketball head coach Mark Phelps.
The event opened with introductions of each team and included the basketball players dancing their way onto the court.
“The introductions were just exciting in the sense that the players were showing their personalities,” said Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb.
Each team got to show off its skills in head-to-head competition, which brought great entertainment to the crowd.
“My favorite part was the three-point shooting contest because our guys shot really well. Our guys had a great time, and they were up cheering for each other,” Phelps said.
One of the fan favorite moments was the slam dunk contest between freshmen basketball players Joey King, Robert Puleikis and Kori Babineaux.
“I enjoyed the dunk contest because it got the crowd into the event and that was very entertaining,” said first-year Justin Mundt.
The players showed off great dunks and the audience named King the winner.
While the event had a good amount of people in attendance, the coaches hope to improve next year.
“I wish that we had more people there, I don’t know if the word didn’t get out and I’m very thankful for the people that did come out, but I wish more people were there to see both teams,” Phelps said. “I think clearly need to market it better and let more people be aware of it. I think that was the only thing that was missing. The interest was there, just not many people knew about it.”
The event itself showcased the wide variety of talent on both teams and left the players ready for the season to begin.
“I hope that people are going to support us and (we) just have a big crowd and that it’s going to be loud,” Puleikis said.
Women’s basketball head coach Jennie Barancyzk also holds high hopes from the fans as well.
“I want the students to be going crazy. I think the students could really have a lot of fun at it, and it could have a huge impact on what we’re doing because I know we are doing some really special things here,” Baranczyk said. “We’re representing the students, we’re going to have a lot of fun and the three things that (the fans) are going see every game is that it’s going to be fun tempo-ed game, we’re going to rebound and we’re going to communicate. That’s a special thing about the women’s team, is that everyone knows you’re there and you get to really have an impact on the game.”
The expectation is no less from the men’s side, and Phelps has high hopes for the team this year.
“I think this team is really unique in their togetherness and while you always want teams to have that camaraderie and chemistry, it doesn’t always end up being the end result. Whereas with this team, even though it’s early, there are many indications that we will be together,” Phelps said “We enjoy each other, and we enjoy each other’s company. While that may sound like yeah you should, that’s not always the case in Division 1 basketball. They are really talented and they really have a lot of Drake pride, and they take a lot of pride in the university and certainly in the basketball program.”
The event provided the community with excitement for the upcoming season and gave it a first-hand look at the talent that each team holds.