Animal-impersonators to entertain fans at Lady Irish basketball game
By NOAH AMSTADTER
Assistant Sports Editor
When a team is No. 1 in the country, even the celebrities come out to the games.
As the top-ranked Irish women's basketball team hosts the Providence Friars tonight in the Joyce Center, fans will be entertained during halftime and timeouts by the Zooperstars, a group of athletic animal-impersonators.
The group includes two "athletes" that may have escaped from Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. Following the end of the Chicago Bulls' title run, Mackerel Jordan and Dennis Frogman have been garnering much attention. Frogman should prove to be a crowd favorite.
"He's a huge frog with tattoos and pierced nipples," said women's basketball marketing coordinator Heather Maxwell.
Also appearing will be Dick Flytale, who promises to bug fans even more than his ESPN likeness. Two baseball-playing mammals round out the troupe — Ken Giraffey Junior and Cow Ripkin.
On the court, the Irish will once again play without the services of starting power forward Kelley Siemon. Siemon, who injured her hand Jan. 13 versus Virginia Tech and hasn't played since Jan. 15, had been expected to return tonight. Instead, she is hoping to make her return to the court on Saturday at Boston College.
"She's taking a little time to heal," said Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. "We're taking as much time as we can."
Although the Irish have easily won both games during her absence, senior point guard Niele Ivey misses her teammate on the court.
"It's evident she's not there in practice with her voice, her leadership and her physical play," said Ivey. "We need her; I think it's evident that we need her."
The Friars bring in a 7-10 record, including a dismal 1-6 mark in Big East play. Senior forward Jen Gombotz leads the Friars in scoring with an average of 12 points per contest. Fellow senior Monika Roberts, the other forward, averages 11.6 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game for Jim Jabir's team.
The Friars are coming off of a tough 72-71 overtime loss at Georgetown on Saturday - a game that followed the Irish men's upset of Hoyas.
Despite Providence's record, McGraw's team is approaching the game seriously.
"Tomorrow we need to make sure we are focused and we are ready to play," said Ivey. "Any day some team can come in here regardless of their record and come in and play good against us."
The Irish have not played since topping West Virginia in Morgantown a week ago. The team must avoid showing rust on the court.
"We'll probably be a little complacent at the beginning," said Ivey.
Playing at home I think we should be fired up and ready to go."
Fans will also have the opportunity to celebrate Milk Mustache Night. The first 300 children through turnstiles can have their picture taken with a cardboard cut-out of McGraw sporting a dairy flavored brow. Other fans can bring their cameras to the upper concourse and join in on the celebration.
Tip-off is tonight at 7 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, January 31, 2001