COMMENTARY: Tigers Roll Out New Tradition
November 23, 2009
BENTONVILLE The anticipation of the impending blizzard was palpable inside Tiger Arena, and first-year coach Jason McMahan was relieved that it didn’t take his Bentonville Tigers too long to score their first bucket of the new season.
And a torrent of toilet paper rained down on the court.
“You come up with these ideas, and they sound really good until the day of the game,” McMahan said the day after Tuesday’s benefit game against Claremore, Okla., kicked off the new year. “(You think) ‘Oh no, what if we don’t score until the second quarter?’”
It didn’t take that long for the new-look Tigers to hit a bucket, although the crowd at Tiger Arena was itching to start the new tradition — letting loose streams of toilet paper after the home team scores its first basket — as the Tigers missed their first couple of shots.
A missed dunk, a 3-point try off the mark and two missed free throws — which wouldn’t have counted anyway, the student section told the other side of the gym — all delayed the eventual shower of paper.
McMahan credited the new tradition to Bentonville assistant principal Jason Jedamski, who wanted to do something special to get fans excited for the first game. The tradition was borrowed from John Brown University, where students and fans have been tossing toilet paper for nearly 20 years and it was featured on ESPN not long ago.
McMahan saw the JBU tradition during his Siloam Springs coaching tenure, as did former Golden Eagle players and Tiger assistants Brian Matchell and Brandon Cole.
Some Bentonville fans brought their own and Kimberly-Clark donated more than 300 rolls to be sold before the game.
The TP sale raised $358 for a mission in Ukraine that was a favorite of former district employee Gary Hutcheson, who passed away earlier this month.
Fans had to hold their rolls for nearly four minutes.
“All of our kids were wanting to score the basket that made the toilet paper come down,” McMahan said.
Sophomore guard Mytaah Crawford did it, knocking down a 3-pointer to trigger the storm.
That made the score 3-2 after Bentonville forced five turnovers and two missed shots to start the game.
“I’m proud of the way the team played in first quarter,” McMahan said. “If we can put four quarters together like that, we have a chance to beat some good teams.”
The Tigers didn’t win the benefit game or their regular-season opener Thursday, but McMahan hopes his team’s fast-pace style and harassing defense will lead to victories.
It’s a style of play that should get the fans in Bentonville excited, with or without the prospect of turning Tiger Arena into a double-roll white-out.
TOM GLAVE IS A NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NEWSPAPERS SPORTS WRITER. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH MONDAY.