University of San Francisco’s basketball program kicked off their season this Saturday at the Hilltop HoopSFest, where Dons fans were able to get a first look at both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The event included several fun-filled competitions that showed off the talents of the players. HoopSFest began with the introduction of both teams and their respective coaching staffs, and fans were visibly excited to meet both the new and returning Dons as they took to the court.
The first event lined up for the night was a simple game of “around the world.” Players from both teams shot the ball from various places on the court, competing to see who could make each of the required shots first. USF fans saw their team’s talent on display for the first time in this competition. Los Locos, the student spirit organization, got to show off their shooting skills as well, as they were introduced on the court for some shooting around.
Following the game of “around the world,” the players competed in a dribbling competition, a three-point shooting competition, and a dance-off. The women’s team sent out their freshmen players to dance to a series of songs, while the men’s upper-classmen and lower-classmen both participated in separate dances.
The dance-off was not the biggest highlight of the night, however. The dunk contest, a fan favorite, was highly anticipated for its highflying acts and spectacular finishes. The players in the competition were each allowed three dunks, and the winning dunk was determined by the crowd’s reaction. A wide array of dunks were put on display, including a 540-degree dunk by sophomore forward Mark Tollefsen and a reverse alley-oop slam by sophomore guard Tim Derksen.
It was Tollefsen’s final dunk that got the fans up on their feet. Junior guard Matt Glover passed a ball off the standard of the hoop, and Tollefsen caught it, passed it through his legs in midair, and slammed it home in windmill fashion. Tollefsen then dunked the ball from the free-throw line to seal his win and take home the dunk title for the second year in a row. The Dons are less than three weeks away from opening their season against Notre Dame De Namur University on Friday, Nov. 8 at War Memorial Gym. While the HoopSFest may have been all fun and games, the Dons’ preparation for the real deal is in full swing, as they attempt to start the season off strong in what is sure to be a grueling, competitive year in the West Coast Conference. Senior point guard Cody Doolin and senior forward Cole Dickerson, both coming off of excellent 2012-13 campaigns, will take on leadership roles on a team with many transfers playing their first year of basketball for the Dons.
Boosted by the experience of their two seniors, USF will look to improve upon last season’s 1516 record, and potentially make an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1998. This will be no easy task with perennial powerhouses Gonzaga and St. Mary’s as WCC foes, but if the Dons can start the season on a promising note against smaller schools such as Idaho State, Sonoma State, and Vermont, then they will be in good shape when conference play begins on Dec. 28 in Oregon against the University of Portland Pilots.