The Siena men's and women's basketball team held their annual Madness event at the Alumni Recreation Center in front of a jam-packed student crowd that packed the bleachers and stood nearly six rows deep on the sidelines.
Both teams entered to thunderous applause with player introductions and one last reminder of what the men's team was able to accomplish last season; a CBI championship, the first national postseason title in Division I program history.
The men's team then staged an inter-squad scrimmage (with a pretty sweet background soundtrack that included the Space Jam theme song) and was essentially just players tossing up give-and-go dunks to one another.
"We're a pretty athletic team," men's coach Jimmy Patsos said. "They've done a lot of work in the off-season and they're excited about the season. Last year I think we came out and we were nervous about this. I want the players to have fun with this."
While the acrobatics were certainly a crowd-pleasure, there was one performance in particular that may have sparked a few extra cheers. Wright, a sophomore guard who is listed, at six feet tall on the Siena roster, dunked more than once in the scrimmage, including a two-handed slam, hang-on-the-rim performance that almost certainly would have earned him a technical foul in a game.
|Siena fans react to the t-shirt toss at the Madness|
event at the ARC on Thursday.
On Thursday night, it simply earned him even more cheers.
"Hopefully," Wright said of getting the chance to dunk. "I'm not going to press that first. But I'm going to let it come. It's great. I tried to do that (hang on the rim) on purpose. It feels good."
After a dance competition at half court (that really happened) both the men's and women's teams also staged a shooting contest, pairing players and fans against the clock.
A half-court shot competition and free pizza later and the night had officially wrapped, the final set-up to the start of the season next month.
"This is just great to bring all the teams together," sophomore guard, and Albany High grad, Emia Willingham said. "It's great to have our students support us. It's a fun atmosphere. We can see all the fans that will, hopefully, come to all of our games."
It wasn't all just fun and games though, men's basketball commit Kenny Wormley was also in attendance, taking in the event with his family. Wormley, a a 6-3 guard from Maryland, verbally committed to Siena over the summer.
The men's team officially opens the season on November 14 at UMass while the women open at Buffalo on the same day.
"This is great for the players and the students," Patsos said. "The student body is great. I don't think we would have won the CBI without them last year. It's just fun.