Trent Meacham and the Illini will participate in the World's Biggest Basketball Practice Saturday at Memorial Stadium immediately following the Homecoming football game.
Oct. 7, 2008
Champaign, Ill. - The Illinois men's and women's basketball teams will take part in a record-setting event on Saturday afternoon, participating in the World's Biggest Basketball Practice in front of over 60,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. As soon as the clock turns to zero of the Homecoming football game, both basketball teams will take the floor and begin warm-up drills. A basketball court will be in place in the south end zone prior to the football game, meaning there will be no delay between events.
Flex Court Athletics, a Kewanee, Ill.-based company that specializes in outdoor basketball, tennis and multipurpose courts, donated the playing surface for the event. Following the World's Biggest Basketball Practice, Flex Court Athletics will give fans the opportunity to purchase the event's official playing surface through a silent auction. Bids can be made by visiting flexcourt.com beginning Oct. 11 and ending Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. The minimum bid for the surface is $12,500.
Those attending the football game will be part of the unique event, getting a chance to see the Illini football team as well as both basketball teams in action at the same venue. The World's Biggest Basketball Practice will create a new attendance standard for any women's basketball event, while also marking the all-time attendance high for a men's basketball practice.
"It's great that the administration supports us by doing new and exciting things that catch the attention of our fans," men's basketball head coach Bruce Weber said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players to be on this type of stage."
Following team warm-ups, the event will run similar to Illini Madness, with a shooting contest, dunk contest and men's team scrimmage.
"It's wonderful to be part of a University that always does things first-class and in a big way," women's basketball head coach Jolette Law said. "This event will put our team and program in the University, community, state and national spotlight, giving us unprecedented exposure as we start the season."
The tie-in between the basketball and football teams is an extension of the partnership that Weber and Illinois football coach Ron Zook established this fall with the Zook Zone towels. Fans are encouraged all season to buy the orange towels at Gameday Spirit to help build energy and create a unique home-field advantage at Memorial Stadium. The towels serve a dual purpose, as $1 from every one sold goes to help fight cancer through the Coaches vs. Cancer program, Weber's signature charity.
"At Illinois we are always looking to help each other and work together with the different sports," Weber said. "The basketball and football programs have tied in with each other before, and it has been successful. This gives us a new opportunity to do something unique while showing our support for the football team."
In the case of inclement weather, the event will be cancelled.