PROVO -- BYU fans will have their first chance to see the BYU basketball team in action this Saturday at the inaugural Cougar Tipoff in the Marriott Center.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with contests and giveaways for the fans beginning at 6:15 p.m. Emceed by KSL Newsradio 1160's Greg Wrubell, Cougar Tipoff will include a light show, contests and prizes, shooting and dunk contests, a full-length men's team scrimmage, free posters and an autograph signing party with the men's and women's teams. Carmen Rasmussen of American Idle fame also will take part in Cougar Tipoff.
BYU season ticket holders receive a ticket to Cougar Tipoff as part of the season ticket package. Students with All-Sport Cards will also be admitted. Otherwise, reserved-seat tickets can be purchased for $2 at the Marriott Center Ticket Office by calling 800-322-BYU1 or 378-BYU1 or online at BYUtickets.com.
"Cougar Tipoff combines two great events into one spectacular night of basketball for Cougar fans," BYU Athletics Marketing Director Tony Jewkes said. "We will have all the fun and giveaways we have had before but at a prime-time hour and in the Marriott Center where we can accommodate many more fans."
The first 5,000 fans will receive free drinks from Hogi Yogi and Teriyaki Stix. T-shirts, an XBOX system, a year supply of Coca-Cola, a motorized Geely Scooter courtesy of Ken Garff of Orem, and a mountain bike from Mad Dog Cycles are among the prizes to be given away.
The finals of a "Y Slamma Jamma," student slam-dunk competition, will also take center stage. The preliminary competition is being held Friday in the Wilkinson Center from Noon--1 p.m.
The men's and women's teams will be introduced and women's coach Jeff Judkins and men's coach Steve Cleveland will each address the crowd. The two teams will participate in a two-ball competition, teaming members from the men's and women's teams together similar to the NBA all-star weekend contest.
The men's team will put on a dunk exhibition prior to coach Cleveland splitting his squad into two teams for a 40-minute running-clock scrimmage. At halftime, the final grand-prize giveaways will be awarded. After the game, players from both teams will meet with fans and sign autographs. Team posters will be available.
"I believe this will be a great event for our team and for BYU fans," Cleveland said. "Not only will there be the traditional contests and giveaways but those attending will be able to see the team play in a 40-minute game instead of a 10-minute scrimmage. There will also be time for the fans to stay afterward and meet the players. We are grateful for the support of the community and our student body and hope this will be a fun evening for everyone."
The men's team had the largest average attendance increase in the nation last season. Overall, BYU averaged the 17th largest crowd in the country at 14,468. The men's and women's teams were both NCAA teams last year and most predict they will be back in the tournament this season.
Led by Preseason All-Mountain West Conference players and MWC Player of the Year candidates Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo, the men's team is considered the favorite to win the Mountain West Conference. The women's team is picked second behind Utah with a strong team headlined by Preseason All-MWC forward Danielle Cheesman.
"We look forward to this season," Judkins said. "We expect to compete for the conference title and believe our fans will enjoy watching us play. Cougar Tipoff is a good opportunity for people to get to know our team."