FGCU After Dark brings more than a thousand fans to arena

ESTERO, Fla.- FGCU basketball arena packed in more than a thousand fans to introduce and cheer on its teams as they enter the 2015 season.

FGCU’s Midnight Madness event was presented by Coconut Point Ford and the Naples Daily News.

Fans were encouraged to dress in their best Halloween costumes as, for the second year in a row, Dunk City After Dark and Hoops & Halloween will be combined one event. Prizes were awarded for the best costumes, and children in costumes had the opportunity to trick-or-treat around Alico Arena.

The cheerleading team, dance team and Azul kicked off the event before the teams were introduced in exclusive videos on the arena’s jumbo-tron. Fans heard from head men’s coach Joe Dooley and head women’s coach Karl Smesko before both teams scrimmaged.

Local radio personality Big Mama from B103.9 FM served as the on-court emcee, while DJCOZ provided musical entertainment throughout the fast-paced evening.

“We’re extremely excited to once again have the opportunity to showcase our program on a national stage,” said Dooley.

Last year, FGCU was one of five schools in the nation to be featured exclusively on ESPN3 during Midnight Madness, while two years ago Dunk City After Dark aired live on ESPNU.

“This is always a fun event that pumps everyone up for basketball season,” Smesko said. “We are really looking forward to playing in front of our fans and having a great night.”

On the men’s side, FGCU finished 22-11 (11-3 Atlantic Sun Conference) last year. The Eagles are one of fewer than 50 programs in the nation that have claimed at least 20 wins in each of the past three seasons.

The women enter the season as the defending A-Sun Tournament Champions and winners of five-straight A-Sun regular-season titles. Led by six-time A-Sun Coach of the Year Smesko, the 2014-15 team finished its historic season with an overall record of 31-3 and an A-Sun record of 14-0. The program earned its first-ever top-25 ranking as a Division-I program and finished the season ranked 21st in the nation after defeating Oklahoma State, 75-67, in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.

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