Midnight Mania Kicks Off Hoop Season

An enthusiastic crowd of at least 2,000 helped usher in the Mountaineer basketball season Friday night and Saturday morning at the WVU Coliseum, and most in attendance agreed that it was an excellent showcase for the rebuilding Mountaineer basketball program. Dozens of giveaways by the WVU athletic department, a brief two on two shooting competition, and a ten minute scrimmage by the men's teams highlighted the night's events.

Fans eager to get their first look at the Mountaineers began lining up a half-hour before the scheduled Coliseum opening time of 10:30 p.m, and when they got inside they were not disappointed. Several games and prizes, performances by the WVU pep band, cheerleaders and dance team and interviews with Drew Schifino, Kate Bulger and head coach John Beilein, made the time until midnight pass quickly.

As the clock hit 12:00, the Mountaineers' women's and men's teams were introduced to the cheers of the crowd. Each player tossed a shirt into the stands as they made the run down the gold and blue carpet to the center of the Coliseum floor.

Following the introductions, a two on two shooting competition was held. Patrick Beilein and Sherell Sowho defeated Tyler Relph and Kate Bulger in that event.

Finally, the evening wrapped up with a ten-minute scrimmage between men's team members. The action was fast paced, with a number of shots taken in transition, as opposed to last year's more deliberate offense.


Freshman Frank Young was a bit of a surprise in the scrimmage. The sturdily built Young hit a pair of three pointers and showed good leaping and ball-handling ability in the open floor.

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Freshman Brad Byerson has definitely been working hard in the weight room over the summer. Byerson's chest and arms are noticeably bigger than they were during his appearance at WVU's summer basketball camp.

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Both teams appeared to enjoy the evening's festivities. Wide smiles and laughs were apparent from just about every player as they made their way down the carpet during opening introductions.

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Women's center Yelena Leuchanka underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the day, and made the trip down the carpet on crutches. She is expected to miss 2-3 weeks, but should be ready to go for the women's season opener against Bucknell.

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The midnight event was the first at WVU since 1995.

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