The Valparaiso men's and women's basketball programs provided season ticket holders and students a sneak peek into what to expect from their teams in the upcoming season at a pair of events held over the past week at the ARC.
"The purpose of these two events is to not only allow fans and students to see the talent on the teams, but to personally interact with the players," said Valparaiso associate director of marketing for athletics Jennifer Garrett. "With so many new faces on both teams this year, we want fans to be able to connect with the players before the season starts. Creating excitement for the upcoming season is the end goal."
Last Thursday, Oct. 10, the Crusaders held their annual season-ticket holder event, as both the men's and women's teams practiced briefly for a crowd of 350 season-ticket holders and guests, the largest turnout in the three years of the event. Men's basketball head coach Bryce Drew and women's basketball head coach Tracey Dorow were both mic'd up for portions of their practices.
Following the practices, athletics director Mark LaBarbera welcomed the attendees and led a "round of applause" in honor of recently-deceased professor Dr. Alan Bloom. Dorow then took the microphone and said a few words before handing it off to junior Jessica Carr to introduce the women's basketball players. Drew followed by introducing the men's team as well. After the introductions, both teams joined the fans in the mezzanine to meet and greet, sign autographs and thank them for their attendance.
Yesterday, Oct. 17, the Valparaizone held a Training Camp, complete with pep band, cheerleaders and Crusaderettes, to get students ready for the upcoming season. Over 350 students were in attendance to register as members of the Valparaizone, which finished ninth last season in balloting for the Naismith Student Section of the Year, and to enjoy an evening of activities with the teams.
Following player introductions, randomly drawn students got to participate in a number of contests and practice drills with the teams. The evening culminated with a slam dunk contest by the men's basketball team, won by senior LaVonte Dority over the mysterious old-school competitor Uncle Powell, followed by the giveaway of tickets to upcoming concerts at the United Center to a pair of lucky students, one of whom was the best-dressed "Superfan" and the other of whom won a dance contest set to Beyonce's "Single Ladies".
The Valparaiso men's team opens exhibition play next Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:05 p.m. against Hillsdale, while the women play their lone exhibition game on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 7:05 p.m. versus Saint Joseph's (Ind.). The regular season opens for the men on Friday, Nov. 8 against Murray State at 7:30 p.m., while the women's home opener takes place at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21 versus IUPUI.