Dragon Madness kicks off basketball season

by Tomi Thompson

Last Tuesday night, Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse was filled with Dragon fans as the men’s and women’s basketball teams took to the court for a night of Dragon Madness.
The third annual Dragon Madness introduced the teams to fans, as well as showcasing fan promotions and giveaways that will take place during the season.
To kick off the night, both teams’ lineups and coaches were introduced to fans, followed by captains Jordan Riewer and Savannah Handevidt saying a few words about expectations for their upcoming season.
Next up, Jon Wepking, assistant athletic director for marketing and productions, pumped up the crowd by showcasing some of the promotions for the upcoming season.
“The fun part that makes it different from similar events is that it is a good avenue for us to show all of the new and returning promotions and really show people all of the interactive things that we do at the games, as well as give them a little sample of the talent that they are going to see out of our teams,” he said.
Wepking said their partnership with Valley Imports will have some amazing promotions for this season, including cash prizes and a vehicle giveaway.
“Valley Imports wants someone to win something big this year, and our guaranteed win games will make sure that that happens,” said Wepking.
MSUM student Cara Zastrow was impressed with the events at Dragon Madness. “I got to sit with other students and athletes while cheering for both basketball teams and got to reminisce a little about my high school basketball days,” she said.
Zastrow was also selected off Twitter to participate in the three point contest with the women’s basketball team. “I was teamed up with one of the other players, and we were neck and neck with one of the other contestants. I had fun!” Zastrow said.
The highlight of the night was the men’s basketball dunk contest. For the second time in his career as a Dragon, junior Evan Holt took home the hardware as dunk contest champion.
“Going in, I didn’t have much of a strategy,” said Holt. Missing a couple of his first dunk attempts, Holt was able to wow the judges with his final attempt by jumping over seated basketball team manager Brandon Tharp and nailing the dunk.
“It’s a little bit of bragging rights,” said Holt.
Both coaches and players appreciate the opportunities that Dragon Madness gives them to showcase their team and interact with fans.
“First of all, I think it’s again a great way to showcase women’s and men’s basketball,” said women’s head basketball coach Karla Nelson. “It gives the students and whoever else attends a chance to get to kind of see them in a non-competitive setting in a way, see the student athletes in a different light. It’s just an early introduction to what the season has in store for us. The other thing is for us to show fans our appreciation and I think our fans need to make this the toughest place to play in the league.”
Men’s basketball player Ngijol Songolo says Dragon Madness is a great way to kick off their season.
“Its great to see all our fans out here,” he said. “Hopefully this season, there will be a lot of wins and some exciting basketball.”
To women’s basketball team members Morgan Banasik and Megan Roehrich, Dragon Madness lets everyone interact with the team and the whole basketball community. They appreciate the continued support all throughout the season and hope to see big crowds at this year’s games.
Another exciting addition to this upcoming season is being able to watch Dragon Basketball on TV this year – Channels WDAY’s XTRA 6.3, Midcontinent 596, and Cable One 1029, and all live online streaming allow fans many avenues to watch and support Dragon Basketball.

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