Oct. 25, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - It's officially basketball season at The Hall.
Seton Hall hosted its much anticipated BIG EAST Tip-off Party on Friday night as part of a collaborative effort between all 10 conference institutions and new television partner Fox Sports 1 to kick-off the 2013-14 season.
An extensive show was put on for the Pirate faithful that packed Walsh Gymnasium as members of both the men's and women's basketball squads took part in a number of skill showcasing competitions and the night also included appearances from two very special guests.
Following the introduction of both squads, emceed by the world renowned DJ Clue, a representative from each team joined a Seton Hall student in the night's three-point shootout. The winning trio was Ka-Deidre Simmons (Newark, N.J.), Fuquan Edwin (Paterson, N.J.) and Seton Hall senior baseball manager John Browning.
Seton Hall fans then got their first look at this year's version of the SHU dance squad while four members of the men's squad were preparing to bring down the house, and the rim in the dunk contest.
Freshman Travis Berry (Elmont, N.Y.) got things started off right as he took off from the baseline and
a-la the Phoenix Suns' Gerald Green, handled a pass from classmate Jaren Sina (Lake Hopatcong, N.J.) that came off the side of the backboard and finished with one hand. Senior Brian Oliver (Glassboro, N.J.) also put his athleticism on display but it was the final two contestants of the night that stole the show.
Pre-contest favorite Karlis did not disappoint, easily throwing down a 360-degree slam in his first attempt. Manga answered by channeling his inner Isaiah Rider, going between his legs for a thunderous throwdown.
With his second dunk, the showman in Karlis emerged as he donned a shooting shirt adorned with the colors and name of his native Latvia and tied a flag as a cape for good measure. What followed was the dunk of the evening as he took off and threw down over top of guard Sterling Gibbs (Scotch Plains, N.J.), who was situated under the basket with the Pirate mascot head on.
Manga came back to win the competition however, exciting all in attendance with the power and ease with which he effortlessly slammed.
All the high-flying action was a mere preamble to the main event of the evening as the world's most famous and accomplished competitive eater, Kobayashi, took on head coaches Tony Bozzella and Kevin Willard along with a host of other Seton Hall representatives including men's basketball great Glenn Mosely in a hot dog eating competition.
Kobayashi devoured 11 hot dogs and buns in a 60-second span to retain his title and took down a gallon of milk in an astonishing 15 seconds for good measure.
Gibbs, women's basketball forward Bra'shey Ali (Plainfield, N.J.) combined with SHU student Chris Cappiello to claim the All-Star Shooting Challenge, with Gibbs nailing the half-court shot needed to edge the opposing team of Brandon Mobley (Savannah, Ga.), Alexis Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Kyle Packnick.
The night concluded with a half-court shot sponsored by the new official health care provider of Seton Hall Athletics, Barnabas Health; that gave student Ricky Singleton a chance to win $10,000.
The event was successful in capturing the excitement that has been building for the upcoming campaigns, both of which begin with exhibition action next Saturday, November 2. The women will take on Philadelphia at 3:30 p.m. while the men will face Caldwell College at 7:00 p.m. in Historic Walsh Gymnasium.
Both teams open their regular seasons the following week with the women returning to Walsh to make their season debut against Longwood on Friday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. while the men will welcome Niagara to the Prudential Center on Saturday, November 9 as part of the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Tip-off between the Pirates and Purple Eagles is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.