The UC Irvine basketball teams officially kicked off their season on Friday, Oct. 12 with a little help from Midnight Magic.
The yearly event offers a chance for students to show off their school pride as the men’s and women’s teams showcase their talents in various basketball competitions.
Midnight Magic, originally held at the Bren Events Center, was moved to Crawford Court this year for a smaller, more intimate experience with the fans.
The battle-of-the-sexes three-point shootout and the slam-dunk contest were highlights of the exciting night.
After falling behind in the first two rounds, senior guard Chuma Awaji rallied the men’s team in the final round of the three-point shootout as he hit his first 10 shots to give the men the victory.
Senior guard Marcus McIntosh defended his dunk-contest crown against junior forward Adam Rodenberg. Both players demonstrated a remarkable display of athleticism and leaping ability as they entertained the audience with stylish dunks.
Rodenberg opened the dunk contest with an exceptional 360-degree dunk only to be topped by McIntosh’s off-the-bounce windmill slam that garnered the praise of everyone in attendance. McIntosh sealed the deal in the final round of the contest with an impressive off-the-backboard tomahawk dunk to retain his title as slam-dunk champion.
However, the athletes weren’t the only ones who were having fun. Students also participated in numerous activities throughout the night.
‘I am extremely pleased with the turnout for this event,’ said Stephanie Krogius, director of marketing for UCI Athletics. ‘The students not only get to know the teams’ personality, but they also get to have fun in a party-, carnival-style environment.’
The atmosphere was lively as students participated in a dunking tank, miniature basketball and karaoke that reverberated through the courtyard.
Adidas helped sponsor the event and gave out gift cards to the winners of the dance competitions. Midnight Magic also allowed the students to sign up for the Completely Insane Anteaters and pick up a coveted golden CIA shirt.
Since the theme of the event was ’80s Night,’ students and staff members dressed in colorful spandex outfits and hairdos that would’ve made Cyndi Lauper proud. The UCI women’s basketball team also got in on the action, sporting matching headbands and neon clothing.
‘It’s my senior year here, so we decided to just go along with the theme and have fun,’ said senior forward Stephanie Duda. ‘We just wanted to go all-out.’
The women’s team looks to rebound from a disappointing 6-24 season with a solid core of returning players. With star guard Angie Ned graduating this past summer, the team will have to look to the leadership of its five seniors in order to do well this season.
‘We have a motivated group of great ballplayers this year who are ready to play,’ said Head Coach Molly Tuter. ‘It’s fantastic to see the fans come out and support us like this because the players love it.’
The men’s team hopes to build on last season’s success. Despite two heartbreaking defeats by conference rival Long Beach State late in the season, the men’s team finished with an exceptional 15-18 record. They would be disappointed with anything less than a winning season.
‘We are a deeper and more versatile team this year, and we’ve got that competitiveness in us to do well this season,’ McIntosh said. ‘We feed off the support of our fans, and that motivates us to play better and harder.’
This year looks to be a good year for Anteater basketball, as both squads are experienced and prepared for the season.
Come out and support the Anteaters when the women’s team opens its season against New Mexico State on Nov. 9 and the men’s team faces California Baptist on Nov. 6.
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