Sean Kline, a long shot to win the slam dunk contest, surprised even himself last night. Indiana University's redshirt freshman was the only participant to land three successful dunks as he won last night at Midnight Madness.
Before the contest, true freshmen Bracey Wright or Roderick Wilmont probably were the favorites. But they couldn't top what Kline did to thrill the majority of the 10,000 fans in attendance at Assembly Hall.
For his first dunk, he used a prop -- walk-on Mark Johnson. Kline used Johnson's back as a catapult as he launched himself for a straightaway jam.
"We had practiced it a couple of times to make sure that I wasn't going to take off too hard and hurt his back," Kline said. "He told me to take off high because he has most of his muscle on his shoulder. We had it planned out."
Kline's second dunk was a solid reverse. And for his third, maybe his best, he went baseline, putting the ball between his legs before slamming it home. Wilmont had a chance to win in the final round but failed to replicate Michael Jordan's famous one-handed jam from the free-throw line.
And thus Kline completed the upset, beating Wilmont, Wright and Jeff Newton.
"I was very surprised," he said. "I didn't even think I was going to be in the finals. I just tried to show some creativity."
The matchup between the men's three-point champion and the women's winner turned out to be a thriller. IU freshman Cyndi Valentin, a Bloomington South High School graduate, topped defending champ sophomore Ryan Tapak 12-11 in overtime.
Tapak and Valentin connected on their final regular attempts to tie at 12. But Valentin was more accurate in the extra session.
"I've been working on it to get better," she said of her shooting. "It came out well for me tonight."
Tapak beat Marshall Strickland in the men's final 11-6. Valentin edged Kristen Bodine 9-8.
In the Spot Shot contest, Alison Skapin and A.J. Moye topped April Williams and Wilmont 27-18.
Wright is ready
A year ago, Wright attended Midnight Madness as a recruit. This time he stepped on the floor as a Hoosier. Wright, a McDonald's All-American, acknowledged that he felt some butterflies about his debut.
"Oh, man I was nervous," the shooting guard said. "For a minute during the three-point contest, my legs felt like they had weights on them."
Sean Kline stole the show with in the dunk contest