Homecoming & Hoops: A Huge (Crowd) Success

Friday night at the annual Homecoming and Hoops Midnight Madness celebration the "Rowdiest Arena in the Country" lived up to its billing as the Oklahoma State men's and women's basketball teams got the 2008-09 season started.

The capacity crowd saw a night of festivities and a new style of basketball coached by Travis Ford that is very reminiscent of the style of offense fans will see on the gridiron Saturday when the eighth-ranked Oklahoma State football team takes on Baylor.

The crowd got into it early when the Cowboys rolled up in a limousine and came out in their new uniforms on their newly redesigned floor with an entirely new look about them.

The White team defeated the Orange 26-25 in a short scrimmage that was broken up into two six-minute sessions. Ford's mentality of coaching was seen early as, only 20 seconds into the game, he was yelling at point guard Nick Sidorakis to push the ball up the floor.

"They're going to hear it a lot. This team, that's not their mind-set. They're not used to doing that," Ford said. "If we were playing in five gears, we were probably playing in second tonight. We've got to get to five."

Freshman point guard Keiton Page made a stellar debut on Eddie Sutton Court leading the White to the victory with nine points. He made his first three shot attempts -- all three pointers. Ibrahima Thomas, James Anderson and Marshall Moses each added five a piece for the White.

A noticeably slimmer Byron Eaton led the Orange with eight points.

Eaton said he is a fan of the new fast-paced style, but he added that it will be hard to adjust to and will take some time.

"In some instances, it feels like I'm not going fast enough but I thought I was pushing it my best," Eaton said. "And then sometimes I was going kind of slow and I know I need to pick it up, but I think we all did pretty good and we're all going to pick it up a lot more.

"Tonight was fun. Tomorrow the real thing starts."

The loudest ovation of the night came when head football coach Mike Gundy and defensive starters Orie Lemon, Jacob Lacey, Pat Lavine and Ricky Price took center stage.

After the score of last Saturday's 28-23 Cowboy victory against the then-No. 3 Missouri Tigers was announced the crowd erupted and serenaded the players with chants of "Defense! Defense!"

Ford heaped praise on the crowd and the environment of the game following the scrimmage.

"Ive heard a lot about it," Ford said. "And to experience it for the first time definitely brings chill bumps. You could definitely feel the enthusiasm for basketball and enthusiasm for this school from the fans.

"There is no question; it's everything I've heard. It's loud in there."

The Cowgirls of head coach Kurt Budke took the floor after the men and were greeted with a warm ovation on the heels of their march to the Sweet Sixteen last season.

The Black team defeated the Andrea Riley-led Orange team 15-8 to wrap up the night's festivities.

There were several recruits in the stands for the night's events. The Cowgirls hosted five players who are already committed to play for OSU and Budke. Heather Howard, LaSharra Riley, Lindsey Keller from Kansas, and Desiree Jeffries and Toni Young from Del City (Okla.) High School were in attendance.

One local prospect joined as well in Elizabeth Donohoe from Edmond North High School.

The men hosted six prospects, including three committed players—Ray Penn, Roger Franklin and Fred Gulley. Also in attendance were 2010 prospect Jamison Sterns and Reger Dowell, a former Arizona commitment. Both players are from Duncanville, Texas. Current Cowboy commitment Roger Franklin is also from the powerhouse Texas program.

The Cowboys also hosted 6-foot-10 center Bawa Muniru from Charis Prep in Wilson, N.C. Muniru is reportedly committed to Indiana.

The teams played well Friday night, but it was the fan support that stole the show.

Cowboy radio announcer Dave Hunziker hosted the event and said he feels that this is as excited as he has ever seen the fan base and that it might even surpass the Cowboy's 2004 trip to the Final Four.

"It was a sell-out crowd, it's hard to imagine it being any better," Hunziker said. "It's funny, when the football team is doing well it energizes everybody and so you have big crowds for everything.

"I thought it was fantastic, the fans are excited and have every reason to be."

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