Basketball opens its gym doors

Fans young and old filled the seats of the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center this Saturday for the second annual UND basketball fan fest.

Onlookers got a preview of who they’ll see for the men’s and women’s squads as they enter the 2015-16 season.

“It’s good for the guys to go out in front of the fans in a non-pressure situation,” UND men’s coach Brian Jones said. “It shows the fans too who is returning to the team and also a preview of the new members to the team.”

Before fans were given the opportunity for autographs, four members of the women’s squad put on a show with their own three point contest followed by a dunk contest by four players from the men’s side.

To determine a winner of the contest was a prestigious panel of judges consisting of young fans picked out from audience. The judges weren’t complete pushovers though, as nobody was able to reach a perfect score of 50.

After the thrills by the players, fans lined up to get autographs from their favorite players, while others attempted the all-eluding half-court shot to receive season tickets. However, for those who didn’t want to take the shot had members of the basketball teams take the shots for them.

“It was something that the players talked about since the first day of school,” UND women’s coach Travis Brewster said. “We’re proud of playing for these fans, this community, this university. It’s a good way to connect with our fans.”

Despite it being the second annual fan fest, coach Jones noted how for several years before the basketball teams would host a similar event called ‘Halloween Hoops,’ which would be closer to the holiday.

“We decided to switch it for a marketing standpoint,” Brewster said. “We know a lot of teams have had success with fan fests so we decided to switch it to a standalone event.”

It’ll be a while until we see both teams in official action. The women’s team starts the season with an exhibition November 2, while the men’s first exhibition won’t be until November 13.

Jack Harvey is a sports writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]