Both basketball teams get fans excited at ZZU Mania

Bohler gym played host to basketball festivities in preparation for new season



WSU center Bella Murekatete makes her entrance during ZzuMania, Nov. 2.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

ZZU Mania took place on Wednesday night in Bohler Gym kicking off the season for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

With the first snow of the Palouse winter coming down outside, students and fans packed into the gym that typically hosts volleyball. Both the cheer and dance teams lined the court and the band was present in full force.

I got lost multiple times on the way and ended up wandering into the same hallway where the players were preparing for their walkout. My mistake realized, I ended up taking the elevator one floor further up to escape and had to sit at the upper level, away from the student section.

Starting off the night, recap videos of last season were shown for both teams and the players ran out onto the court throwing shirts into the student section.

WSU center Bella Murekatete makes her entrance during ZzuMania, Nov. 2.

Despite being well outside of the student section, I made an elite athletic play and snagged one. Upon handing it off to my partner, we realized that while the shirt claimed to be a medium on the tag it was easily an extra large.

In a much better surprise, sophomore Myles Rice was with the team. Rice is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma,  but you’d never know it if you watched him on Wednesday night. He was all over every part of the event, taking the lead in multiple games and competitions.

The first of the games was a skills competition. Two athletes at a time had to dribble up the court around cones and then pass a ball into a net. After that, they had to make a layup on the hoop they were closest to before dribbling back and shooting a three on the other hoop.

Multiple rounds took place, with a bracket-style competition split between the men and women. Rice participated and lost in his second round to Carlos Rosario. The final round was between Rosario and Tara Wallack.

It was during this round that I came to the decision that springing for a referee would have been massively beneficial, as Rosario ended up winning with a dubious stat line that included a block on Wallack, a missed dunk on the layup section and no threes. For those following along at home, the correct winning stat line should include zero blocks, zero dunk attempts (made or otherwise) and one three-pointer made.

Regardless, Rosario won and we moved on to a three-point contest. It followed classic shootout format, with three racks of balls being rolled mid-shootout to simulate the five racks that were necessary.

The same bracket setup as before brought us to a final round of DJ Rodman and Johanna Teder. Teder got off to a good start, easily beating her opponent in the first round, but struggled early in the final. She hit only 11 and ended up falling to an on-fire Rodman who had 17.

WSU forward DJ Rodman competes in the 3-point shooting contest during ZzuMania, Nov. 2.

There was also a dance competition, but to describe it properly in writing is likely outside the realm of a mortal such as myself. All that needs to be known is that Rice danced the most of any of the men by a lot. If he wasn’t a basketball player, I’d put money on him being on the dance team.

WSU assistant athletic trainer Learie Jones performs during a dance-off between the men’s and women’s basketball teams during ZzuMania, Nov. 2.

The final event of the night was a game of bump with two fans pulled from the student section participating alongside players from both teams. One fan lost nearly immediately, but the other made it to the final three, losing only to TJ Bamba and Rice, who at this point had participated in every event but the three-point contest.

Bamba won bump, but the real winner was the fan that made it to the final three. He won a WSU Athletics bag, like the backpacks the players have. It is likely that he now roams among us, perfectly disguised as someone that plays a sport.

WSU guard TJ Bamba makes his entrance during ZzuMania, Nov. 2.

As ZZU Mania wrapped up, I hurried down to the court to get a brief couple of questions in with men’s head coach Kyle Smith. Smith said it was great to see the support and that it was a similar feeling to the student section at a real game.

When asked about Rice’s participation, Smith said it was “all him” and that Rice insisted to be a part of the event even as he is in the midst of difficult treatments.

At the end of our short time, Smith asked for my name again. When I told him (don’t worry about scrolling up, it’s Hayden Stinchfield), he said it sounded like a name from a book.

I said I’d gotten that before, but if I’m being completely honest that wasn’t true. I’ve never gotten anything remotely like that, but when he leads this team to the tournament I’m going to be bragging about that line forever.

ZZU Mania was a fun way to start off the season and fans should be excitedly preparing for the openers this coming Monday. The women’s team tips off at noon against Loyola Marymount and the men’s team follows them up at 4:30 p.m. against Texas State. Both play in Beasley Coliseum.