It’s time for the event that gets a school of just over 1,300 undergrads on ESPN’s Snapchat story, on SportsCenter and in articles by USA Today and NBC Sports: the toilet paper game.
The home opener of John Brown University’s season has grown from a few students throwing smuggled rolls on the floor in the 70’s to tradition that maxes out the gym’s capacity. Last year over 2,000 people filled the 1,800 seat stadium.
Ricky Roberts, senior guard for the Golden Eagles, said, “At the toilet paper game [the fans] can expect a lot of excitement. Probably the biggest game of the year, and the experience of a lifetime, there’s nothing else like it.” With over 2,000 rolls of toilet paper set to be thrown this year after JBU’s first basket, Roberts is right, “there’s nothing else like it.”
The TP game truly starts off the season with a bang, and brings together not only JBU’s student body but also many people from Siloam Springs and the surrounding area. USA Today called the game “the best technical foul in all of sports.” Sophomore center Dwayne Hart said, “[The game is] awesome. Just seeing the crowd there for us, it’s the biggest game of the season. It’s just a terrific experience.”
This game is just the start though. The men’s basketball team comes into this season looking for a major turnaround after the 13-19 record they ended on last year.
“Last year was definitely disappointing with the record we finished with,” Hart said.
On top of that, the team graduated out two of their top three scorers and their defensive anchor. For the majority of teams in this situation, this would be a time of low expectations or what analysts would characterize as a rebuilding year, but not for this team.
This year’s team is a special group. Determined to come together and defy expectations this season, they have a new level of focus and unity.
“The change is a complete 180. Coaches are demanding more out of us. We are demanding more out of ourselves – holding each other more accountable. We are bringing more energy every day,” Roberts said. “These are things we need in order to reach our goal of making it to the national tournament.”
Although the team comes into this season with a new level of focus, the challenge of finding a new way to win games, having lost three key players, remains.
“Offensively, if we are going to be successful we need other players to step up like me, Rick, Brandon, Joseph, and not just with scoring, but just creating plays for everybody else,” sophomore guard Marquis Waller said. “We have guys that can do that. Our goals are to come together as one unit and to win our conference tournament.”
Roberts said he feels ready to take on the extra responsibility of being a senior leader.
“I feel more is resting on my shoulders and I embrace the challenge. As far as our two main guys leaving, I feel like we have others that will step up. We have guys that will cover the production,” Roberts said. “We are ready for the challenge.”