If a coach can ever condone spectacle over substance, it would be for something like Runnin’ Rebel Madness. Everything about Thursday’s first-look event is emphasizing glitz and glamour. The court from the Thomas & Mack Center has been temporarily moved outdoors to the Downtown Events Center, where Rebels fans will be able to watch the 2015-16 team dunk and shoot and dance with the sole purpose of putting on a show, and the atmosphere should be electric.
It’s the one time during the season when Dave Rice can step back, put down his clipboard and let his players prioritize entertainment ahead of winning, and that’s exactly what he plans to do.
“This is a fun night,” Rice said. “It’s just a night to go out and enjoy being a team, interacting with the fans. We’ve had 12 practice opportunities so far, and that’s been a lot of hard work and teaching, but [Runnin’ Rebel Madness] is a night to spend with the fans.”
The madness will be headlined by a dunk contest, and the Rebels have no shortage of contenders. Even with legendary slam artist Derrick Jones unable to participate due to an ankle injury, there should still be enough aerial artistry to keep the fans captivated. Freshman guard Jalen Poyser is one confirmed participant, and he has credentials. Senior swingman Ike Nwamu is also expected to participate, and he may be a co-favorite after throwing down a pair of explosive dunks in last week’s Scarlet & Gray Scrimmage.
The 3-point contest also promises to be competitive, with marksmen like Jordan Cornish, Tyrell Green, Patrick McCaw and Jerome Seagears all capable of shooting the lights out. Nwamu may be a dual threat, should he choose to participate in the shootout as well as the dunk contest.
The show starts at 7 p.m. and the event is free of charge. After the on-court theatrics, the players will stick around to sign autographs.