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Last Thursday, the men’s and women’s basketball teams hosted FIU Hoopla, the first of what the teams hope becomes an annual and free party just before the start of their seasons.

Rather than hold the event in the arena, they took Hoopla to the people at the Wellness and Recreation Center outdoors courts.

“We’re bringing our team to the community rather than waiting for them to come to us,” women’s coach Tiara Malcolm said.

That evening, men’s basketball coach, Jeremy Ballard judged two dunk contests, one for the FIU players and another for fans/students.

“I think I was pretty lenient,” Ballard jokes when asked about his dunk scores. “If I were a professor, everyone would be signing up for my class.”

Thursday’s three-point shootouts were won by Desmond Hazzard (fan) and SEAS students Trejon Jacob (men’s team) and Ieva Spigule (women’s team).

The dunk contest was won by 6-foot-6 Devon Andrews, who jumped over 6-11 teammate Elhadji Dieng. Addison Alufohal won the fan slam contest.

FIU’s band and cheerleaders were also on hand, and beIn Sports provided free pizza.

“It’s a great idea,” said Brandon Lee, a freshman who took part in the three-point contest and plans to attend games. “The team needs support. I know a couple of guys on the team. They’re good guys. They work hard for their scholarships, and I respect that.”

“Our players have been working extremely hard since June when we got here, and I wanted fans to know the excitement and energy our guys bring,” Ballard said.

Be sure to support your Panthers as the women’s team takes on the Miami Hurricanes on November 6, at 7 PM, and the men’s team takes on the Weber Warriors on Wednesday, November 7th at 7 PM.

Read the Miami Herald article for the full story.