Bring on the Hoopla! Basketball Tips Off at Mason

Posted: November 4, 2013 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: November 5, 2013 at 6:22 am

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By Preston Williams

HOOPLA! Block Party

The Hoopla Block Party is just one of the events leading up to the BIG event, the first men’s basketball game of the season. Creative Services photo

George Mason University students eager to support the men’s basketball team can do so Friday afternoon, Nov. 8, at two pep rally events. Then, with a free T-shirt on their backs and free food in their bellies, they will stream into the Patriot Center to cheer on George Mason in its season opener against American.

The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with the Student Government’s Gold Rush at the George Mason statue, where students will receive free T-shirts designed by classmates. The spirited throng will proceed to Parking Lot A, adjacent the Patriot Center, for the Hoopla Block Party, hosted by the Patriot Activities Council, from 5 to 7 p.m. Patriot Center doors open at 6 p.m., and tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Event organizers expect about 1,000 students to turn out for the rallies. The more supporters the better as far as Patriots Head Coach Paul Hewitt is concerned.

“Short of having really good players, [school spirit] is the next most important thing,” Hewitt says. “When you have great school spirit, it impacts every phase of your program. It impacts how guys feel when they go on the court to play for George Mason, and it impacts recruiting.”

There is even more to be excited about than usual this season, with the Patriots returning five experienced starters off a 22-win team and embarking on their inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The Hoopla event will feature giveaways and a DJ, and more eating options than in previous years.

“We’re doing a lot more food to make it more of a traditional tailgating event,” says Chuck Thiel, programming coordinator for the Patriot Activities Council in the Office of Student Involvement. “It’s turned into a big deal in recent years.”

Basketball hoops and an inflatable shooting game will be available for students who want to fire up their own shots in the parking lot before the Patriots fire up theirs in the arena. Student organizations and various university departments also will have a presence at the event.

“The people of Mason are just very proud of Mason,” says Hewitt, who is heading into his third year as head coach. “Everybody has a lot of pride in the school. Fans and graduates supportive of Mason basketball are doing a great job for us.”

For tickets to the basketball game, see the GoMason.com website.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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