The third floor gym of the Eastern Michigan University Rec/IM was nearly full Tuesday for the “Rock The Rec 2” event – featuring both the men’s and women’s basketball team.
This is the second year the Rock The Rec event was held – essentially promoting excitement for both basketball teams before their seasons start Nov. 14.
Men’s basketball senior forward Karrington Ward won the slam dunk contest a year ago and looked to repeat his success. He made it to the final round, facing off against teammate Tim Bond – a freshman.
Bond made his final dunk – an emphatic reverse two-handed slam.
Ward missed four attempts for a 360-degree dunk – giving up his title to Bond.
“I was giving Karrington a hard time about that before the event because it’s always difficult to repeat,” Keith Jason, coordinator of student services for the College of Technology and longtime supporter of EMU basketball said. “Because that expectation is there and you maybe end up trying to do a little bit too much. Karrington is a phenomenal athlete, I mean incredibly gifted and incredibly blessed with a lot of skill. He might have gotten a little too fancy. Some dunks that went down during warmups, some dunks that have gone down all week just didn’t go down tonight. It doesn’t mean he’s not a great athlete, it just means he didn’t win tonight.”
Jason said Bond is a player to watch this season.
“Timothy Bond is an amazingly talented freshman and I’m looking forward to some great things from him over the next four years,” he said. “I think he’s going to turn a lot of heads this year as a freshman.”
Men’s grad student forward Anali Okoloji won the three-point competition over freshman guard Ethan Alvano.
Anthony Orlando, head of Eastern’s athletic marketing department, said he was happy with the turnout.
“Judging by turnout, I think we hit our goal which was to meet or exceed [last year],” Orlando said. “It’s hard to get an exact number, but we were very happy with the turnout.”
Jason said he believes this event will become a tradition for both basketball programs and thinks the Rec/IM is a great place to hold the event.
“I think that this is a mainstay,” Jason said. “This is going to become a staple of the program. Until the fan base is to a point to where it can be moved to the Convocation Center, I think that this is the perfect venue for it.”
Rock The Rec also got the attention of local officials.
“Being a graduate of Eastern, I think it is amazing to see so many people, so many students coming out and supporting the event,” EMU alumna and Ward 1 Ypsilanti City Council member Nicole Brown said. “I think it’s really cool to have the athletes interacting with the students and showcasing their talents for everyone at the school.”
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho