Tiger Newcomers Shine After Midnight

Auburn, Ala.--The 2001-2002 Auburn basketball season got off to a rousing start Friday night/Saturday morning with spectacular slams and a fast-paced "Midnight Mayhem" scrimmage at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

The highlight of the evening came in a dunk contest that closed the show. Former Buckhorn High School and Notre Dame Prep star Brandon Robinson edged another freshman, Dewayne Mitchell from New Orleans, in the finals after the two easily advanced through the first round with a balance of power and finesse in their dunks. Robinson was able to win the competition on his first dunk but saved the best for last.

Freshman guard Dwayne Mitchell wowed the crowd by jumping over a manager plus teammate Charlton Barker for a dunk at Midnight Mayhem.

Working the crowd into a frenzy by walking slowly down the length of the court, Robinson finally stopped his stroll in front of the stands at the far end of the 94-foot court and looked at his target at the far end of his runway. Like Doctor J and Michael Jordan before him, Robinson was preparing for the ultimate in dunks, the free-throw line jam. Starting his gallop towards the goal, Robinson planted just inches in front of the charity stripe and took off towards the rim. Fifteen feet and many screams later, Robinson had accomplished something most observers thought never done at Beard-Eaves.

From that point on the contest became an exhibition as Robinson and Mitchell played a game of ‘can you top this.' First Robinson jumped over a team manager who was standing just in front of the goal, much to the delight of the fans in attendance. Mitchell then asked teammates Lewis Monroe and Charlton Barker to give him some assistance with one sitting in a chair and the other leaning down next to him, all in front of the basket. Mitchell was able to clear the two easily as that brought the evening to a climax and sent an estimated 4.500 fans home with smiles on their faces.

"Our new guys were just chomping at the bit to get out there tonight," associate head coach Shannon Weaver said. "We had to herd them back in the locker room several times before midnight. If you saw the way went about it tonight, they were really anxious to get going. The excitement is contagious. This new class is very encouraging--not only with their skills but with their approach and their enthusiasm.

Freshman Brandon Robinson leaps a manager on the way to winning the slam dunk contest.

"We are eager to get going and I believe the Auburn fans are more eager to see this team get going than they were before our Midnight Mayhem practice after getting a chance to see our new guys in action."

When asked if this is Auburn's most talented team during the Cliff Ellis Era, Weaver said, "I think when you go one through 15, I think it is really our most talented. We are not where we were with Doc Robinson's and Bryant Smith's group with their experience because they had three solid years of playing at the college level, but on just pure talent I like this group. We think this can be a special team."

The festivities got started with Ellis serving as a host for a Ladies Night Out that proved to be popular. Prior to the Midnight Mayhem, a music video he recently completed that pays tribute to America was shown on the coliseum's big screen video boards. After that the Auburn coach led the crowd in a rendition of "God Bless America" before the team was formally introduced.

The first order of business of the night was a scrimmage of two seven and-a-half minute halves with a running clock. Led by the play of newcomers Marco Killingsworth, Derrick Bird and Lewis Monroe, the Blue team edged the White team 25-24 in a sometimes sloppy but otherwise entertaining display of basketball for the first time on the court. Sophomore Abdou Diame was the leading scorer in the scrimmage with 12 points in time for both teams with his jump-hook shot in midseason form.

Junior guard Adam Harrington takes a jump shot.

Sophomore center Kyle Davis and junior forward Marquis Daniels both watch the practice while recovering from injuries. Davis has bone chips in his knee and Daniels has had a stress fracture in his foot. Both have been practicing lightly and should be fine when the Tigers suit up for their first exhibition game Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. against the Global Sports All-Stars at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Suspended seniors Lincoln Glass and Mack McGadney were not in attendance for the workout. Both players should be re-evaluated sometime in the next few weeks and are expected to rejoin the team, however, no time frame for their possible return has been announced by the coaching staff.

The Tigers play a second exhibition game on Nov. 9th vs. the Double Pump All-Stars and open the regular season at home on Friday, Nov. 16th vs. Highpoint.

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