Men’s and women’s basketball celebrate upcoming season at Colonial Madness

Media Credit: Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

The men's and women's basketball teams address the crowd in the middle of the Smith Center court during Colonial Madness Friday.

From dunk contests to dance-offs, men’s and women’s basketball kicked off the 2017-18 season at Colonial Madness Friday night.

To start the night, the teams announced their new rosters, both of which have seen major shake-ups and additions in the off season. In total, 15 new Colonial faces were introduced on the Smith Center court.

The women’s team highlighted each of its six new members. Freshmen Lexus Levy, Chyna Latimer and Neila Luma, sophomore transfers Olivia Gumbs and Sarah Overcash and senior transfer Taylor Campbell strutted onto the court when their names were announced.

Under the helm of women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, the team captured its third-straight Atlantic 10 regular season championship last year. But for seniors Kelli Prange, Camila Tapias and Brianna Cummings, it was their first season without a conference title.

“They’re going to want to win another championship, that’s what the last three senior classes have done,” Rizzotti said. “I want them to set their sights high and set the bar high but understand there’s going to be some growing pains along the way.”

Rizzotti, who danced her way onto the court, challenged the members of the crowd to come back to the Smith Center again and watch the team play during the season.

The men’s side welcomed nine new faces – the largest group of newcomers in at least 15 seasons – including freshmen Justin Mazzulla, Terry Nolan Jr., Maceo Jack and Javier Langarica.

After three weeks of practice, men’s basketball head coach Maurice Joseph said the team is ready for competition.

“It’s getting to that time of year where the guys start getting a little bit chippy and want to play against somebody else,” Joseph said. “We’re really chomping at the bit to get started.”

Players competed against each other and fans in activities on the court. Juniors Kelsi Mahoney and Mei-Lyn Bautista went head-to-head at the charity stripe, trying to see who could be the first to make a free throw blindfolded during the skills contest.

Graduate student Bo Zeigler, sophomore Justin Williams and Nolan faced off in the dunk contest. Zeigler came out the champion after his winning dunk sent his teammates to their feet.

The women’s team put on their best moves, closing out the night with a choreographed dance routine with the First Ladies. Other student groups — including GW Cheer, Colonial Brass and The Colonial Army — participated in the event and riled up the crowd.

Hundreds of students, faculty and alumni flocked to the Smith Center for the annual event. The event was featured on the Colonials Weekend schedule Friday, which combined both parents and alumni weekend for the first time in more than a decade.

The men’s team faces off against Fairmont State in an exhibition game Nov. 4 before the season officially opens for both teams Nov. 10.

Video by Sarah Roach.

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