Junior guard Trevor Lucas was given an assignment in his Management of Sports Facilities class to organize and execute an event. He began discussing ideas with his roommate, Will Williams, about how to generate publicity for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams heading into the upcoming season. After putting their heads together, the idea for the Raven Riot was born. “We talked to the coaches to get their permission,” Lucas said, “and it took off from there.”
The basketball teams heavily promoted the event. “We made a promo video and posted it from multiple accounts on Twitter,” Lucas explained. “The video also showed on the chapel announcements. We hung flyers all around campus and on the day of the event, posted on Snapchat to remind people to come out.”
The promotion worked; a much-larger than anticipated crowd was able to take their first glance at the 2016-2017 basketball teams in the inaugural Raven Riot. Students and faculty alike filled OC Lewis Gymnasium to watch the Raven players and coaches partake in a dance competition, three-point shootout, “shot challenge,” slam dunk contest and coed scrimmage.
After players and coaches from both teams were introduced, the coaches and Lucas made their way to midcourt to open the festivities with the dance competition. “Juju on that Beat” echoed throughout the gym while spotlights shone brightly on the participants. The dancing allowed Raven fans to familiarize themselves with new coaches for both teams. The men’s team added Peyton Wyatt and Drew Messmer to coach Owen Handy’s staff, while Dale Griggs and Vanessa Tijerina join coach Lindsay Shade in leading the women’s team.
Though an official winner was not declared, coach Tom Beach was a favorite amongst both spectators and players.
The next event would determine who the best shooters are at AU. Four teams competed in the three-point shootout, with a representative from the men’s and women’s teams. Stanley Duncan and Carly Hackler faced off against Nathaniel Acree, Anderson’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made, and Audrey May in the championship round. After both teams posted a score of eight, Duncan and Acree each took one shot to determine the winner. Duncan missed his shot, allowing Acree to earn the crown for his team after making a shot from the top of the key.
Matt Adams, Mike Peters, Olivia Love and Tatum Minier participated in the shot challenge. Each had 30 seconds to make a layup, free throw, 3-point jumpshot and half-court shot. No winner was crowned as none of the four could knock down the half-court shot. Peters was the closest as he drew iron.
The final individual competition to take place was a dunk contest featuring Lucas, a known high-flyer, Joe Line and Cole Hartman. Lucas and Line advanced to the championship round where each attempted two dunks. Line pulled off the upset victory, receiving a high-score of 27 from the three judges.
The co-ed scrimmage was the main event of the evening. JD Bembry flashed a tight handle as he took his man off the dribble before stepping back and hitting two threes early in the scrimmage. Love was a force inside, making multiple strong moves for layups and drawing fouls. The highlight of the night came when Williams connected with Lucas for an alley-oop, bringing multiple members of the crowd to their feet.
While he has ideas on how to improve the event for next year, including giveaways and more fan engagement in events, Lucas was happy with the Riot. “We got to showcase our talent and athleticism. Hopefully people will recognize that.”
Team captain Cory Kreiger echoed his sentiments, saying, “The amount of students that came out and supported us made for a fun atmosphere. We hope, with their support, we can make this year a good year.”