By Andy Tennant
For the Times West Virginian
Falcon fanatics flocked to the Joe Retton Arena on Tuesday night for Fairmont State’s Fan Fest, a preview of the 2012-13 men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The festivities included a short scrimmage, a ball-handling showcase, a slam dunk competition with the men's team and a co-ed team 3-pointer competition.
Approximately 1,000 fans of all ages came out in support of the teams, including Joe Retton himself, whom the arena is named for.
First-year FSU men’s coach Jerrod Calhoun, who was named head coach in April by way of West Virginia University, thought the turnout was terrific.
“I thought we had a great turnout,” said Calhoun. “We went out in the community this week and went to some of the neighborhoods last night and helped to build excitement. We have a great team here, and we just have to keep working the next three weeks and get better.”
Calhoun served as an assistant coach under Bob Huggins and was WVU’s director of basketball operations for four years before taking the FSU job. The Falcons will try to improve from their 8-19 season last year, with a number of transfers and talented freshmen who will make their debut with Calhoun on Nov. 10 when they host Ohio-Eastern.
“It was a fantastic event,” said veteran FSU women’s coach Steve McDonald. “It was a lot of fun for the crowd, and our girls feel very appreciated. We have five returning starters that won 18 games last year. We have depth and we have great kids, and they’re fun to coach and fun to be around.”
McDonald, who is the winningest women’s coach in Fairmont history, will try to keep his team’s momentum going following an 18-10 season last year.
The women will begin their season on Nov. 9, when the Lady Falcons play Clarion (Pa.) in the WVIAC-PSAC Challenge at Joe Retton Arena.
The dunk contest was won by Andrew Gunnoe, 6-6 senior from Hinton.
“We have a lot of great athletes on the team. It felt good to get out there and show what I can do,” said Gunnoe.
When asked if he would perform any dunks like his winning one in a game, Gunnoe replied, “Coach might not like it, but we’ll see. We’re just out to get it done, though.”
The competition displayed some amazing dunks which included jumping over other players, more than one 360 and a between-the-legs dunk from Brendan Cooper that scored a perfect 10 from judges that included the university President Maria Rose.
The announcer and DJ for the night was Dj Strizy of Morgantown, who also brought along DJ Archer, a 17-year-old Fairmont native. The two played an array of music including hip-hop and house music and ended the night with “Country Roads” by John Denver as players spent time with their fans and signed autographs.