Getting Hyped

John Askins

Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again…

The USF men’s and women’s Dons are primed and ready to take the court for the 2016-2017 season.

What better way to kick things off than the Dons 5th Annual HoopSFest? The men’s and women’s basketball team and coaching staff gathered in the War Memorial Gym on Saturday night along with a healthy crowd of Dons fans who were chomping at the bit for the season to get underway.

The night’s festivities kicked off with a performance by the Dons Spirit Squad, which was followed by an introduction to the rosters of both teams. The audience learned the player’s names, and their quirks and interests–including those that enjoyed horseback riding, those who were named after movie characters and those that enjoyed getting caught in the rain.

Newly-hired men’s coach Kyle Smith and newly-hired women’s coach Molly Goodenbour were also introduced to the fans and answered a few questions from crowd.  Coach Smith said that he has had a smooth transition into becoming the USF head coach and is pleased with the progress that his team has made. All hopes are that the men are successful and can gain a spot in next year’s NCAA Tournament.

Molly Goodenbour,  who was hired just two weeks ago, faces the tall task of getting the team ready for the season in just a little over a month.  She has inherited a club that earned an NCAA Tournament berth last season, and and all expectations are to accomplish the feat again. Goodenbour is no stranger to Dons basketball, as she was an assistant on the 1994-1995 women’s team that compiled a 24-5 overall record, which earned the USF women’s team their first ever Tournament bid.

After the interviews ceased, the games began. From Cookie-Face to, skills challenges, to three-point competitions, there was plenty of entertainment. The three-point contest was one of the night’s most engaging events, highlighted by freshman guard Jordan Ratinho’s 16 three-pointers in 30 seconds.  Ratinho and senior guard Rachel Howard’s team took home the crown in that event with a strong showing.  Prizes, which included Dons gear and Apple TVs, were given out to a few lucky winners of the raffle and the on-court competitions.

In the last competition of the night, the Dons’ three most emphatic dunkers took center stage to put on a show for a panel that included USF alumni and NBA legend Bill Cartwright. Sophomore forward Nate Renfro looked to defend his title after winning the contest last year.  Though there was exciting competition, Renfro did so handily by stuffing a tomahawk jam after taking off near the free throw line, and finishing a dunk where he threw down two balls in a single jump.  Freshmen guard Charles Minlend put up a worthy fight with a couple of flashy reverse jams, but in the end he was not able to convert in the finals.

The night concluded with a few more dance performances from some unlikely sources.  Both the women’s and men’s teams gave some slick dance performances, but nothing could prepare the audience for what came next: Coach Smith took over the floor and performed his rendition of “The Humpty Dance,” lipsyncing along with a passion unlike anything that had been seen that night.

The Dons kick off their season on Nov. 11 at home in War Memorial Gym, with the women taking on the Sacramento State Hornets at 6pm, followed by the men facing the University of Illinois Flames at 8pm.

Header Photo Credits: USFDONS.COM



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