By Justin Sweitzer
Keystone Hall hosted the first-ever Maroon Madness on Oct. 14 to build anticipation and excitement for the upcoming basketball seasons of both the men’s and the women’s teams.
The event was free for KU students and featured introductions of the 2016 basketball teams, shooting contests, prize giveaways and a co-ed scrimmage to conclude the night.
The team introductions highlighted the strong senior classes of both teams. Senior members of the women’s basketball team include Kara Funk, Alex Heck, Jenna Altomare, Gina Lewis and Kelsey Watson.
The men will rely on seniors Martin Dietrich, Howard Sellers, senior team captains, Ryan Connolly, Austin Beidelman and Josh Johnson as they try and capture a second-straight PSAC East title.
Men’s head coach Bernie Driscoll, entering his 17th season as head coach, thanked all the fans in attendance for their support, a support he said has proven especially powerful for his team and their incredible success at home in recent years.
“Thank you all for coming tonight,” Driscoll said. “I appreciate all the work you’ve done for us.”
Following the introductions were multiple shooting competitions with fans and players alike. A three-point shootout was held between the two best shooters on each team, which were determined to be Jenna Altomare and Kalee Fuegel on the women’s side. Representing Driscoll’s squad was Howard Sellers and Ryan Connolly. Connolly’s shooting performance earned him the title of the greatest three-point shooter on campus. He defeated Fuegel in the final round to win the competition.
The lighthearted nature of the co-ed scrimmage showcased the athletic prowess of KU’s basketball program, with members of the men’s team throwing down rim-rattling dunks, while players from Janet Malouf’s team dazzled with ankle-breaking crossovers and impressive shooting.
Performances from the KU cheerleaders, the KU Dance Team and Black Flame Dance Team broke up the basketball action, and Avalanche was in attendance to help rile up the crowd.
It was a night of gratitude, with players showing their appreciation for the fans while also increasing the excitement level for basketball season at KU.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” Beidelman said. “We need you guys to come out this year.”
“It’s going to be a great year,” Lewis said.
The season will begin on Nov. 12 for both teams, with women’s basketball traveling to West Virginia for a conference challenge against the University of Charleston at 6 p.m. The men will open up their season against Penn State Schuylkill at Keystone Arena at 3 p.m. the same day.