About 1,500 students gathered at the Smith Center on Thursday night to kick off the highly anticipated 2004-05 GW basketball season. With the festivities highlighted by giveaways, performances and short practices by the men’s and women’s teams, GW fans were given a taste of what is to come this season.
“This event is really to let the younger kids get an idea of who the players are and what this whole thing is all about,” GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said.
The event began with a three-on-three basketball tournament that matched winners of last year’s intramural basketball league against members of the GW basketball coaching staff. Following the game, the team’s fight song was played to rally the crowd.
Students were treated to a variety of prizes, including a Vespa scooter, 42-inch television and a dinner for 10 at Maggiano’s Restaurant, along with tickets to the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center next month.
Senior Sean Rose of WRGW was the master of ceremonies and introduced the teams. The women’s team hit the floor with drills and head coach Joe McKeown directing.
“We’ve had 15 years in the top 20 in the nation I don’t expect this year to be any different,” McKeown said. “When I came here 16 years ago, there were no fans. This is great.”
The reception of the men’s team was no different, as the crowd screamed for the highly lauded squad. Coach Karl Hobbs directed the team in full court drills, laden with dunking and intricate dribbling.
“Thanks for making this place such a great place for basketball and such an easy place to bring good players in,” Hobbs told the crowd.
McKeown said the event was important for school spirit.
“I think it excites the student body and it’s huge,” McKeown said. “People get excited about games and come. We want a huge crowd. It really helps us bring people in.”
Hobbs agreed, saying, “It really rallies the fans and it brings us together as a school. The guys love the feeling and it brings in the school to officially start the season.”
The Colonial Army, the newly founded Colonial fan group, was in attendance and helped rally the crowd.
“We will be there when the men beat Wake (Forest). We will be there when the women take the A-10 again!” Rose emphatically told the audience.
Freshman cheerleader Euginia Gluzberg said she is excited to begin the season and wants to rally students to support GW athletics.
“We are really excited and this event was a great start to what should be an awesome season,” Gluzberg said.
The men’s team officially opens its season at the preseason National Invitation Tournament on Nov. 15 in Winston-Salem, N.C. against preseason No. 2 (ESPN/USA Today coach’s poll) Wake Forest. The team has a scrimmage on Nov. 5 at Villanova University and Nov. 10 at home against Randolph-Macon College.
The women’s first regular season game is at Georgetown on Nov. 19.