With 28 days remaining before the basketball season official begins, Colonials Madness showcased new players, highflying dunkers and a dancing coach.
On Friday night, both the men’s and women’s basketball programs welcomed parents, students and fans to the Smith Center and introduced them to the Colonials’ 2016-2017 rosters during the annual parents’ weekend event – which used to be titled Colonials Invasion.
“[Colonial Madness] went great. It was a very, very nicely done event,” women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “These kind of events are for the students. Our student athletes, the cheerleaders, the spirit team and of course the student body here. GW seems to be excited about our upcoming season of athletics.”
To start the night, several student groups, including the First Ladies dance team, GW Cheer and The Colonial Army pumped up the crowd.
The reigning Atlantic 10 champion women’s basketball team off the event, revealing a similar roster to last year’s 26–7 lineup.
They return A-10 All-Conference first teamer senior Caira Washington, as well as senior starters Shannon Cranshaw and Hannah Schaible.
The Colonials also introduced the team’s three new faces. Graduate student Lexi Martins, freshman Kendall Bresee and freshman Harper Birdsong all join the team.
“I’m really excited about our three newcomers. Obviously Lexi has college experience and I think she will add a lot to our post position,” Rizzotti said. “Kendall and Harper, both as freshman, have a lot to learn but I have seen some really good flashes out of both of them so it is just a matter of them continuing to adjust.”
Rizzotti closed out the women’s introductions showing off some of her own dance moves. Her rendition of the moonwalk and the worm received a standing ovation from her team and the crowd.
Then men’s basketball took the court. Familiar faces like senior Tyler Cavanaugh and junior Yuta Watanabe highlighted the roster. But the squad also has seven new faces.
The Colonials will have to look to graduate student Patrick Steeves and the six freshmen to become impact players if they are going to complete interim head coach Maurice Joseph’s goal of hanging another banner in the rafters.
In his sixth year with the team, Joseph takes on a new role in the program. After the departure of former head coach Mike Lonergan in mid-September, GW named Joseph as the interim head coach.
“It is a lot to go through, especially as a young team. But it has been great,” Cavanaugh said. ” Since Mojo got the job, all of the assistants are working together, we have had great practices and we are moving forward because we have got to get ready for a tough schedule.”
Four fans came to the court to go head-to-head against players. The team of freshman Colin Smith, sophomore Kelsi Mahoney, Martins and two GW fans took home the victory in the skills challenge.
The last — and most anticipated — event of the night was the dunk contest. Senior Matt Hart, freshman Justin Williams and Watanabe competed for the highest score on their dunks.
Despite a late and possibly illegal entrance to the competition by Smith, Watanabe won over the fans and came out on top.
In less than a month, the men are set to host Bowie State in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 before both Colonials squads officially open their seasons Nov. 11.