Hilltopper Hysteria set to ring in a new basketball season

Former WKU forward O’Karo Akamune dunks during last year’s Hilltopper Hysteria. Ian Maule/HERALD

Billy Rutledge

Hilltopper Hysteria, WKU’s annual season-opening event for basketball, will tipoff a brand new season on Saturday at 6 p.m. inside Diddle Arena.

The event will feature player introductions, two 20-minute scrimmages and a dunk contest with performances from the WKU Pep Band, the WKU Topperettes, the WKU Cheerleaders and even Big Red. A new addition to Hilltopper Hysteria is a three-point shooting contest, pitting two players against two die-hard fans. Parking and admission are free of charge.

Lindsay Boyden, the associate athletic director for marketing, said having a free event is a great way to interest the fan base and those who haven’t yet come to a game.

 “People are excited,” she said. “The fans are ready for the new conference and to see teams they haven’t seen the Tops play before, so we are expecting a big crowd.”

Lady Topper junior guard Micah Jones, fresh off a conference tournament championship and NCAA tournament appearance, will join teammate freshman forward Ivy Brown against two members of the Red Wave in the newest addition to the event, the three-point shooting contest.

“The Red Wave is a student group started last year that has really caught on,” Boyden said. “We want to reward those die-hard student members with some cool opportunities throughout the year, so the first one during basketball this year is the three-point contest.”

Other possible benefits for fans include free t-shirts for the first 500 through the doors, tickets to see the Eli Young Band at Diddle Arena on Nov. 6 and free haircuts for a year, determined by a half-court shootout. In addition, a 30-minute autograph session will take place following the event.

Hilltopper Hysteria gives WKU fans a unique experience to meet the members of both teams. Boyden said the event is unlike any other at WKU.

“Fans are seeing a different side of these kids,” Boyden said. “They usually see the game ready and focused athletes and don’t see a lot of their personality during the season. This event allows fans to see the players, talk to them and learn much more about them. These kids aren’t just basketball players — we want them to be seen as student-athletes, so fans develop a relationship with them and continue to come back for the games in the season.”

The first test of the 2014-15 season for the men’s team will be an exhibition against Pikeville at Diddle Arena on Nov. 10 while the Lady Toppers’ first exhibition will be Nov. 7 at Diddle Arena against Bellarmine University.

With the first action of the new season less than a month away, Hilltopper Hysteria is a friendly reminder that WKU’s basketball season is almost here.

“There is so much going on right now: professional sports, WKU football and the World Series on the way,” Boyden said. “We want something that reminds our fans, hey, don’t forget that basketball is right around the corner. Doing an event like this keeps basketball on everyone’s minds.”