Rallying around a near-capacity attendence in the SRC Arena, the UC Riverside Highlanders men's squad was pumped up. The dance team did their routines, as did the cheerleaders, and then the basketball teams did theirs...
The women's team came out, dressed in all black with neon-colored tutus and boogied their way to center stage. After an intriguing and entertaining dance routine, the men's team arrived. Rule of thumb: if you're a guy and you can dance, have swagger. If you're a guy and you can't dance, but you are in great shape, take your shirt off.
That's exactly what the men's team did: grabbed a few ladies from the student crowd, set them in chairs on center "stage" and danced shirtless in front of them. Nothing technical, just smooth (probably a good thing since there have been a couple of injuries on the night in the past because of dancing).
After the introduction of the teams, Coach Jim Wooldridge emphasized last year's highs -- beating UCSB, UC-Irvine and UC Davis in Riverside -- and challenged the students to show up in full force and support the team. There was no sense of negative attitude or body language showing the knowledge of a postseason ban for the Highlanders.
Even Robert Smith, the lone senior on the team, seemed positive about the event. He took the lead in the huddle after the introductions and happily pushed his teammates during the dunk competition, with all smiles.
While these events are always fun and engaging for the students and the athletes, we'll get more of a sense of the team and the support at the first true home game (not counting the exhibition) against Fresno State.