IOWA CITY — It took Eric May five times to get the dunk he wanted, but, man, it was worth it.
May, a 6-foot-5 senior, threw down the night’s best dunk on his last attempt at the buzzer. He tossed the ball high, it bounced off senior Chris Rickert’s head and WHAM!
“It was awesome,” May said. “The energy, the crowd in here, seeing my teammates getting energy. I was thinking people weren’t going to get that excited after the fifth try, but they did. It was a lot of fun.”
May and Rickert, a walk-on from Sioux City, worked on the dunk Thursday in the practice gym. The ball bounced in multiple directions on the first four attempts. The fifth, however, was a masterpiece.
“It was perfect,” May said. “I’m surprised it took Chris that long. We practiced a little bit before. He was right on it. It’s awesome.”
Even Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery loved it.
“I knew they had cooked something up,” McCaffery said. “I was really glad they got it in and the fact they did it at the buzzer. It was fun.”
Six players competed in the contest, which was part of the revived Black and Gold Blowout at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The event showcased the men’s and women’s basketball programs with pyrotechnic introductions and on-court scrimmages.
The players walked across a stage with music playing in the background and spotlights swirling. They exited with fire shooting behind them.
McCaffery strode into the arena riding in a Corvette.
“The original idea, I was going to be rapelled from the catwalk,” McCaffery said. “So risk management didn’t go for that. So they came up with the Corvette. It’s funny when I first came through, you go through the smoke, you can’t see anything.
“We did a dry run, which is a good thing, because the car doesn’t have a handle.”
Iowa women’s coach Lisa Bluder entered from the top of the arena to spotlights and walked the stairs to the floor.
“This was more hype than substance and that’s the way it’s supposed to be with these things,” Bluder said.
The night also featured a 3-point shooting contest between women’s sharpshooter Jaime Printy and men’s sophomore Josh Oglesby. Printy was electric from the perimeter, winning 20-9.
“It was really fun,” said Printy, a senior from Marion. “We were kind of talking to each other, trash talking a little bit, just joking. But it ended up being really fun.The crowd got into it.
“Josh is a great shooter. He got a little cold, so I might have gotten a little lucky.”
Printy wore a brace on her left knee after suffering a torn ACL last season. She was able to run the floor in the scrimmage and said she feels good.
Iowa men’s basketball junior Devyn Marble returned to practice for the first time this week after suffering from pneumonia. He was winded and labored, but he fought through it.
“It’s going to take a process,” Marble said. “Pneumonia is not anything easy to come back from. I’m up to the challenge.”
Around 5,000 fans showed up for the event, which excited the players. In May’s freshman season, Iowa averaged 5,550 fans in attendance.
“It’s a great way to start the year, get guys out here, get the crowd in here, not a real serious environment and have some fun,” May said. “See the intros and everything. It’s something that should happen every year.
“Some of these crowds were like Big Ten season crowds a couple of years ago.”
Marble said he bugged McCaffery about having a midnight madness event, and McCaffery placed on the team’s shoulders.
“He said it was basically up to us,” Marble said. “We’ve got to win to have stuff like this. Now that there’s a little buzz around us, we’re able to have an event like this and come out and be successful.”
Eric May hands down won the dunk contest. He missed a few alley oops but he nailed the last one. Others participating include Mike Gesell, Pat Ingram, Gabe Olaseni, Darius Stokes and Melsahn Basabe. Here’s a video of the dunk contest (which unfortunately does not contain Gesell’s attempts.
Here is the 3-point shooting contest between Jaime Printy of the women’s team and Josh Oglesby of the men’s team
Here are the opening introductions to the men’s players and assistant coaches
Here’s Iowa men’s coach Fran McCaffery’s introduction