Texas Tech Hoops – Red Panda Stole the (Halftime) Show

In front of a sellout crowd in Lubbock, the Red Raiders returned to the basketball court and stomped Eastern Illinois 85-60. There was a lot to be excited about, from the dropping of the banner reveal for the Big 12 Champs & Final Four team to the new faces on the roster that we finally got to see in action at their first regular season Texas Tech game. Out of the newcomers Ramsey did excellent, but I wrote the guys here on STP that I was most impressed with Holyfield and Shannon. This was just the first game, and we will see who steps up on Saturday to be key contributors… yet, you cannot deny that this is an ultra talented roster with loads of depth. Some development and chemistry as the season progresses will be vital in building us into another Final Four contender during March Madness. Though we believe that it is well within our grasp if we can bond this group together like Coach Beard and staff have done in previous seasons.

That crowd looked ROWDY on television and the videos that were posted on social media. There was a student line that was guesstimated to be 1000+ before the USA doors even opened. And, 15 minutes before tipoff the arena was loud and rockin’. I love it, and it is such a joy that the students and fans in Lubbock are getting to experience how wonderful college basketball can be when you are on top. Let’s keep it up, and I don’t expect the crowd to be any less rambunctious if we keep rolling in the victories.

During an in-game chat session of the STP writers, you could feel the burst of excitement over the message board as everyone exploded about Red Panda during halftime. Seth even chimed in and made sure we were not being disrespectful of the beloved halftime act. He made a good point that if Red Panda was there for our first game, that Tech basketball was going all out to entertain the loyal fans that showed up to watch Tech play.

To those of you that do not know who/what Red Panda is here is a snippet from Sports Illustrated on how Red Panda became the NBA’s favorite halftime performer:

Niu’s routine is derived from a traditional Chinese acrobat act. Although her father ramped the level of difficulty, staggering the bowls rim to rim—balancing each dish on merely their curving lines—rather than simply stacking them inside each spacious basin. “Literally everything he decided,” she says. As a 7-year-old, Niu began flicking the dishes skyward while standing on the floor, building the leg strength that would later allow her to master the unicycle. Then after months of pedaling and balancing and maneuvering, she combined the two elements of the performance. For three years, GuiZhang would spend his mornings instructing at the nearby Taiyuan Art School, serving as the manager for its acrobatics program, and return home to mold his protege. Niu’s sister, five years her junior, never took kindly to the sage’s methods. “We didn’t know the line between when we practiced and eating at the dinner table,” Niu says. “We always thought, ‘He’s so serious.’” Every time his daughter dropped a bowl, he doubled over to scoop the miss off the floor. To combat his ailing back, GuiZhang fashioned a massive pair of scissors to retrieve the dishes. “It looks like a one-person act,” Niu says. “In my opinion, it’s two persons’ work.”

She joined the fabled Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe at 14, completing Taiyuan’s seven-year program in just four years. The troupe traveled through Asia, Europe and Africa. When Niu was 16, they stopped in Denver for a three-month stint at Elitch Gardens amusement park. The Colorado crowd erupted with each bowl Niu landed atop her skull, unlike she had ever heard before. “America, the audience gave me the most reaction. They’re very outgoing, very cheerful, even if I make a mistake,” Niu says. “I decided, it’s so special, that country.”

College blue bloods came calling as well. When she’s announced as an evening’s halftime entertainment, it’s regularly met with a guttural roar. The Sixers annually open their schedule to Niu, inviting her to choose any two games that best suit her availability, preferring her appearances accompany their bigger, nationally-televised contests. If Philly makes the playoffs, their first booking call pings San Francisco. Niu practically holds a Bay Area residency with the nearby Golden State Warriors, impressing those within the locker room. “It’s ridiculous. It’s unbelievable,” head coach Steve Kerr has said. “It’s one of the best halftime shows. She’s fantastic.”

Go read the whole thing. It’s really a great story and also highly impressive. With that little bit of background, now check out a few of the reaction videos at Tech via Twitter –

I’ve seen Red Panda in action before and know how special the halftime act is, and I’m glad the Texas Tech crowd had the pleasure of enjoying it as well. Now, onto Saturday… even if the halftime act won’t be nearly as good. Wreck ‘Em Tech!!!


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