DES MOINES, Iowa - The Drake men and women's basketball teams kicked-off the 2012-13 season at the annual Primetime Preview Thursday night at the Knapp Center. The free event featured competitions with students and student-athletes and was capped with fast-paced five-on-five Blue vs. White scrimmages by both teams.
The women scrimmaged first with the White team defeating the Blue squad, 17-15. First-year head coach Jennie Baranczyk will have the Bulldogs playing an up-tempo style this year and tonight was the first glimpse of that as both teams pushed the ball and looked to score early in possessions.
Barancyzk's team has 10 first or second year players including one junior college transfer, Mary Pat Specht (Shawnee, Kan.), who scored seven points for the Blue team to lead all scorers. Redshirt-sophomore Carly Grenfell (York, Neb.) scored five points, including a deep three-pointer, to help propel the White team to victory.
Baranczyk was impressed with her young squad at the end of the evening.
"I think it went really well and I'm proud of them," Baranczyk said. "We have nine freshmen and sophomores along with one junior college transfer and one senior. Tonight we came out and took it to each other and got up and down the court."
After the women's scrimmage the men's team took the floor. Senior transfer Chris Hines (Houston, Texas) scored the game-winning bucket to propel the White team to a 17-14 win over Blue. Gary Ricks, Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.), a junior college transfer, added five points and two rebounds for the white squad.
The Blue team saw contributions from some of the squad's most experienced and newest players. Senior Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) dropped in six points and two rebounds to lead his team. Freshman Daddy Ugbede (Gardena, Calif.) scored five points, including an impressive transition floater and a three-pointer.
Baranczyk and Mark Phelps took the microphone after their respective scrimmages to talk to the crowd. Both coaches lauded the passion of their teams and asked for that same passion back from the fans this season and to come out and fill the stands with Drake blue for both teams this year.
"One thing I can tell you about this basketball team," Phelps said, "Is that they're a brotherhood. They're together and they're playing with pride for the name on the front of their jersey. Pride for Drake University, pride for our fans and pride for everyone here. They're going to give it their all."
Phelps then concluded the night by leading the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday for freshmen Kori Babineaux (Sacramento, Calif.) and graduate manager Adam Urness who celebrated their birthdays Thursday.
The event began with competitions involving athletes and students. The first competition of the evening, musical chairs, was dominated by Drake student Jay Smith. The Drake men and women's teams then went head to head in a three-point shooting contest. After a scoring error, Gary Ricks, Jr. won the competition, putting up 22 to defeat teammate Micah Mason's 19 in the first round. Ricks then topped the women's champion, Carly Grenfell's 10 points with 15 to win.
The biggest excitement of the night came in the men's slam dunk contest. In a battle of freshman Joey King (Eagan, Minn.), Robert Puleikis (Detroit, Mich.) and Kori Babineaux (Sacramento, Calif.) squared off. After three dunks and a few assists from their teammates, King emerged victorious by a fan vote.
The women will take the court again in two-weeks time to face Quincy in an exhibition Nov. 2. The exhibition will tip at 7:05 p.m. They will play another exhibition against Upper Iowa on Nov. 7 before opening the season at home on Nov. 11 against South Dakota.
"I've been waiting since April 17 when I got here to have our first game," Baranczyk said. "We've been working hard in practice and there are some things we need to continue to work on but everyone in the country does as well. We are going to be well-balanced and our newcomers and returning players are ready for their roles to begin or to expand and everyone can't wait for the exhibition in two weeks."
The men will face Southwest Baptist in an exhibition on Nov. 3 at 7:05 p.m. before kicking off the season against William Jewel Nov. 10 at the Knapp at 11 a.m.