The Edward Tullis Arena was the scene of dancing, cheering and a live DJ spinning tunes as the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Claflin University put on a show for Panther Madness on Monday night.
The event featured the introduction of the Panther teams for the upcoming season and a showcase of players’ talents and skills.
Matisse Lee, assistant athletics director for internal operations/student-athlete affairs, is the lead organizer of Midnight Madness. Involvement of the student body is beneficial to both teams before they begin their campaigns, she said.
“It is extremely important for us to get our student body excited and hyped about our basketball season,” Lee said. “Introducing them to the players is a very good thing.
“Last year we implemented something new here called ‘The Jungle,’ which is our student section. We wanted to get our students excited and let them know that when they come to games, it is OK to cheer.”
Lee was impressed by the number of students who turned out for Panther Madness.
“The feedback that we got with the activities that we did was just amazing,” she said.
The activities during Midnight Madness included the following:
- A 3-point contest between the men’s and women’s teams.
- The dunk contest.
- “Hotspot,” a shooting game that required players to make a lay-up, free throw, three-pointer and a half-court shot.
- A 5-on-5 scrimmage involving the women’s team.
The head coaches from both teams also spoke.
Claflin men’s basketball coach Ricky Jackson got the crowd hyped by closing his time with his response to being asked about Claflin’s rival Benedict College, when he said he didn’t know who Benedict was, and then he dropped the mic.
New Claflin women’s basketball coach Revonda Whitley introduced herself to students and fans before saying how excited she is for the upcoming season.
All of the activities were put together by the student-athlete advisory committee, Lee said.
“It’s a student-based event," she said. "They actually sit down and they plan things they would like to do during this event.”
Lee said she is among the many who are excited for the upcoming Claflin basketball seasons.
"The men's basketball team came off of a really high season last year, so I'm excited to see them get back out there and seal the deal," Lee said. "Our women's basketball program has new faces; but when I walk in the gym and see smiles, that means all the world.
"I think it is going to be a great season for both programs.”