Wednesday, October 17, 2007

THANK YOU, LEFTY…THANK YOU

Midnight Madness happened for the first time in 1970, when legendary coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, then at the University of Maryland, wanted to get a jump on competition. He figured that since the NCAA allowed practice to begin on October 15 (now October 12), why not begin practicing on midnight of that night? Makes sense, right?

While this was the first Midnight Madness, much has changed in the culture of it. Driesell made the Terps run a midnight mile. Now, Midnight Madness across the country has become an event to get students to get excited about the season.

At schools such as Arizona, Florida, Georgetown, Kentucky, Illinois, USC (who debuted the much ballyhooed O.J. Mayo), Marquette, Indiana, George Mason, Syracuse, N.C. State (no Duke or Virginia – focused on football, no doubt!) and other big-time programs, Midnight Madness is a huge event, where thousands of students come out to support their team and to witness the team’s first practice.

At many of these schools, there are giveaways (such as T-shirts), half-court shots for free tickets, and other prizes. Further, the men’s and women’s teams participate in scrimmages and contests, including dunk and shooting contests so the fans can see how returning players have progressed while scouting the new freshmen. Finally, the event also plays a role in swaying recruits to come to the university.

The Terps brought Coach Williams into the Comcast Center in a Lamborghini. Fans brought food for a local food bank, and both the men’s and women’s squads did their thing. Kirk McEwen and Steve Ash from 98 Rock hosted as Maryland ushered in the season with a night of contests, giveaways and a laser-light show at midnight as the Terps were introduced to their fans for the first time this season. Oh, and don’t forget the “Gary Williams Look Alike Contest.”

Meanwhile in Chapel Hill, it’s called Late Night With Roy. ESPN anchor Stuart Scott (a North Carolina alum) handled the emceeing for the third consecutive year. The men and women went through player introductions. The boys performed a series of skits – the highlight of the night – followed by drills and a scrimmage. Everybody danced – including Roy. Here’s a video of the boys doin' some Kanye:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=UxhwqUfjUQY

MidMad is a pivotal recruiting weekend in Chapel Hill and elsewhere. Five star prospects including 2008 commitment Ed Davis, twins David Wear and Travis Wear and Dominic Cheek (2009) and Kendall Marshall (2010) attended the festivities at the Dean Dome.

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