The men’s and women’s basketball teams kicked off their 2013-14 campaigns Friday with a loud tip-off party in front of the blue and white faithful in historic Walsh Gymnasium.
The free event, officially known as the 2013 Big East Tip-Off Party, was nationally televised on the new Fox Sports 1 television network.
The event, which featured formal introductions of both men’s and women’s teams, was high- lighted by a slam-dunk contest and a hot dog eating contest with professional competitive eater Kobayashi.
The atmosphere of the event stuck with coaches and players the most.
“I thought Friday night was great,” men’s head coach Kevin Willard said.
“I thought it was really special what Fox did, putting all the teams on national television. The student turnout and even the sea- son ticket turnout were tremendous.”
The “Midnight Madness” event also gave fans a chance to see the new look of the women’s basketball team, which has a new coaching staff.
“Well, it just shows there is a lot of support here, a lot of excitement for Seton Hall basketball,” first-year head coach Anthony Bozzella said when asked what he thought of his first public event at Seton Hall since his inauguration speech last spring.
“It shows how great our fans are and when they pack this place, (Walsh Gym) how tough it is to play here.”
Senior guard Fuquan Edwin said he realizes how excited the fans are for this season, and the potential his team has moving forward.
“The atmosphere was great, the fans just showed great energy so I think that shows a lot for us,” Edwin said.
Players and coaches both felt the electricity in the arena.
“I think both teams, both men and women appreciate it and I think the efforts that not only Fox but our athletic department put into it kicked off the year in a great way,” Willard added.
A slam-dunk contest put fans in high spirits for the rapidly-approaching season.
Junior guard/forward Stephane Manga, who is in his first season at Seton Hall, won the competition, but it was Haralds Karlis’ dunk that got the whole crowd on their feet.
Karlis’ wind-mill dunk over teammate Sterling Gibbs, who was wearing a Pirates mascot head, sent Walsh Gym into a frenzy.
“I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know where I’m from,” Karlis said. “I just try to put Latvia on the map a little bit and show my energy.”
Both squads will be looking to carry the energy from the party into their season.
The women’s team hosts Philadelphia for an exhibition on Saturday at 3 p.m. The men follow up with an exhibition against Caldwell at 6 p.m. Both contests will be held at Walsh Gym.
David Heim can be reached at email@example.com.