Hold successful 'Star Wars Night,' University of Detroit did

I do in fact believe these are the droids we're looking for. (Detroit Athletics)

I'm thinking the same thing. Where's Princess Leia?

Sensing the need for a good PR push and an interactive reason to get fans to come to a basketball game and do good for charity near the holidays, the University of Detroit held "Star Wars Night" Wednesday for the team's game against the Toledo Rockets. It's one of the more random themes we've seen at a college basketball game in recent memory. But they pulled it off well. I mean, any time you can get a wookie on the court you've gotta do it.

Prior to the game, there was a little local build-up. Here's the promo.

The first 500 fans at the game received mini-lightsabers, making me instantly jealous even though I'm not really a Star Wars fanboy. The Titans won the game, by the way, beating the Rockets 79-73 to get to 3-4, effectively using the Force (I'm doing my best to fight off the puns here) to fend off a three-game losing streak.

Cheerleaders are all about Mr. R2-D2. (Detroit Athletics)

As for the other fun details, the "Imperial March" was played when Toledo was introduced, while the home team got the infamous, primary theme from the classic movies. Chewbacca and one of the Stormtroopers did a mock shoot-out with the students as means of in-game entertainment. Detroit was led out from the tunnel by R2-D2.

In this one, Ray (McCallum) shot first.

The inspiration for the idea came from Brandon Longmeier, Detroit's director of athletic marketing and promotions. He and Laura Grajczyk, an intern for the athletic department, put the night together.

"We're never gonna beat the Pistons and Tigers and Michigan and Michigan State out on promotions, so we actively look for different fan bases to touch, even if that means fans who aren't college basketball-related," Longmeier said.

Since Detroit considers itself a family-friendly university, going with the Star Wars theme was an easy choice to attract adults who grew up with the movies, as well as kids, who will pretty much flip out over anything involving fights in space. But who were in the costumes? Great Lakes Garrison is an organization in Ohio and Michigan at the ready for any kind of promotion like this. The group often works at sporting events but also does events with hospitals and the Special Olympics, always in the name of charity.

On Wednesday, Detroit married the concepts by raising money and collecting presents for Toys for Tots. So all who brought a toy to Wednesday night's game got a ticket at a discounted price. The school said the players really engaged with the promotion; even the women's lacrosse team showed up in different characters, too. Plus, plenty of kids showed up in different kinds of superhero costumes.

It seems like the night gave life to one fun idea after another, and all of those good decisions included not inviting Jar Jar Binks. Plus, I don't think Natalie Portman got the invite, either.

It wasn't all fun, though. I hope R2-D2 came over and kicked some ass shortly after this shot was taken.

I don't remember this happening in any of the Star Wars movies. (Detroit Athletics)
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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