Boom Goes The Dynamite: Midnight Madness 2010 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 15th, 2010

And here it is.

Look at that beautiful clock in the top right corner. We’ve been watching that thing tick and tick for almost 200 days, and now…such beautiful stillness. All zeroes.

The only thing that can match this feeling is the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, and even though that’s five months away, the days between this moment and that one will pass like a dream. So let’s enjoy this one tonight. Gyms and arenas are packed across the nation tonight to celebrate the First Official Day of Practice. We’re already checking out some local broadcasts, live streams, Twitter feeds, and live blogs, and the ESPN-U broadcast with their (we like this term) “whip-around” coverage is mere minutes away. Every one of the RTC Compounds (Western, Southern, and Eastern) are locked in and rocking. We have our satellite feeds. We have our Blue Ribbon Yearbooks beside us. We’re ready.

Join us here at 8:45 pm ET (about 15 minutes from now) and start hitting that refresh button for updated comments, and, as always, we encourage you to give us your thoughts via the comments section and Twitter. WELCOME!

8:45 PM — So many programs kicked off their festivities at 7 pm or 8 pm ET, so the first order of business is to try and get you some links up to some of the various happenings:

Dan Wolken, columnist for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, is live blogging Memphis Madness on his live blog (we actually love the “Wolken In Memphis” title).

Kentucky’s official site is streaming live here at

More on the way…

8:51 — Kentucky’s Enes Kanter, a big wrestling fan, entered to the music formerly used to introduce The Undertaker. He cannot practice tonight, unfortunately for all of us, since just about everyone wants to get a look at this guy. But that was one heck of an entrance.

9:01 — ESPN-U’s broadcast is underway. That aurora borealis background is kind of cool, eh? By the way, if you have such access, Maryland Madness is also live on TV on Comcast MidAtlantic.

9:08 — Wow. From Duke, Jay Williams and Lou Canellis are covered in sweat. Not surprising, considering it’s Cameron Indoor, but it can’t be fun sitting there under hot lights in a sweltering building while wearing a suit. Actually, it’s the Madness, so it’s fun no matter what. But hopefully they have designated toweler-offers (read: interns) standing just out of the shot.

9:12 — Evidently Duke’s Seth Curry took a nasty elbow to the eye and was pretty much spurting blood. This is awful, but hopefully it’s not as bad as the initial shock, and we’ll provide more details as available.

9:17John Calipari just commented on the Kanter situation, saying that he doesn’t feel like the NCAA is working against Enes Kanter or Kentucky, just trying to do the right thing, and they all understand how whatever the NCAA decides will be a precedent for all future foreign players. Also mentioned the Dee Bost decision by the NCAA, and commended it, saying it was “the decision that was best for the young man.”

9:25 — According to @TheHoopsReport, Seth Curry has re-entered the scrimmage at Duke. Good news.

9:27 — Bit of a slow start to the ESPN-U coverage in terms of live footage, but we’ll excuse that right now. It’s good to see Hubert, Jay, and Katz.

9:32 — Mr. Barbar raises a point that’s frequently forgotten about last year’s Memphis team — eight scholarship players, but 24 wins. That’s pretty darn impressive for Josh Pastner’s debut.

9:38 — Holy cow, there’s a Doug Gottlieb sighting. Interviewing Steve Lavin, who has done a fine job of injecting some life and interest back into St. John’s basketball. We met Lavin in 1998 at the San Antonio Final Four — nice guy, very engaging and affable, and you can tell he’s a competitive guy. Necessary for a guy taking over a school sitting right in NYC, yet Syracuse is considered “New York’s program.” It can’t be a bad thing for college basketball that New York City would have its own college hoops presence, so we’re kind of rooting for Lavin. Now, about those Knicks…

9:43 — HA! Lavin just said that Gene Keady (who Lavin just brought in as an advisor and basically an unofficial assistant coach) has provisions for Maker’s Mark bourbon and an occasional Cuban cigar in the fine print in his contract. Bravo, Coach Keady!! You’re our kind of guy. We’re liking this setup more by the minute.

9:49 — Talk about motivation…Kyrie Irving looks on as Nolan Smith receives his championship ring. By the way, if you’ve seen these things, they’re huge. They’re like hubcaps.

9:55@AustinRivers25: Duke fans are the best!!! No doubt

9:57 — A little early at the Breslin? We’re sure this will change…

9:59 — Great stuff from Jacob Pullen and Frank Martin at Kansas State. Pullen says that outside of basketball, Coach Martin is “soft.” Martin smiles, admits that Pullen’s right. So check this out — they didn’t know I was there, and I’m not going to divulge anything I heard in the conversation. But at the Big 12 Tournament last year, I was in the media/teams hotel bar, sitting right beside some K-State coaches and Frank Martin came in. Sure, he perpetuates the intense image, but let there be no doubt — Frank Martin can tell a joke. Great comedy timing and delivery, from what I heard. And he sure loves his players. In that bar, he was drinking soda, by the way. No alcohol. And he was the first of that group to call it a night. His team had just advanced, and this seemed to be one of the few periods of relaxation during 72 hours of pure business.

10:04 — Well, these ESPN-U guys look like they’re having fun. I bet they are. Looks like they’re happy to be back. But there are still promises of scrimmages. Even though many programs have stuff going on right now, there still hasn’t been anything in the way of actual basketball on the screen. This was the major critique last year. We’ll see if this changes over the next few hours.

10:11 — Will Barton wins the dunk contest at Memphis. And it doesn’t look like it was really that close at all. And with Memphis’ athletes, that’s saying something. Do you think Josh Pastner is having as much fun as he usually seems to be having, or is it just the image he wants to put out there? Looks legit to me, but I admit, it’s what I want to believe.

10:13 — This is better, ESPN-U. Now you’re whippin’ around. Still no actual basketball. Take the logical next step, though. Less talk, more rock.

10:15 — Even Caltech had a Midnight Madness! Respect, brainiacs. I don’t know what kind of moon language that this summary of the event was written in, but…well, just check it out for yourself. That Miles Plumlee dunk there, by the way, was the first bit of basketball we’ve seen on this broadcast.

10:22 — Promo for Georgetown featuring rapper Wale (that’s pronounced wah-LAY) and Lady Gaga:

10:35 — You know, I just remembered that Freddy Asprilla landed at Kansas State. Watch out for that one, people. Man, that team is Sofia Vergara-stacked.

10:38 — See, this is what we’re talking about. We hear music. We hear crowd reactions. We hear basketballs being dribbled. But we SEE people talking. Are we being too critical, here? What are we missing about this? Several of these Madness events at schools across the country have already happened. There’s tape galore. There’s all kinds of things they could be showing from events that have already happened and concluded. Instead, we’re 102 minutes into this broadcast, and there’s been — say it with us — no…actual…basketball. If there’s something we don’t know about this, meaning some reason why we can’t do these conversations by voice-over while watching the scrimmages, please tell us.

10:45 — Hahaaaa…Twitter follower @golferjames1991 responds to my send-out of Lavin’s commens about Gene Keady’s contract:

@golferjames: he does love Maker’s Mark and Cigars, he golfs at my place of employment, the course is littered with them when he leaves

James, everything you just said there just makes us bigger fans of Keady’s and we didn’t think that was possible.

10:55 — It’s the once-a-year Midnight Madness broadcast…and they’ve got Dick Vitale talking about baseball.

10:57 — A couple of dunks by Wally Judge (nice, by the way) going into commercial. We’re actually going to get to the halfway point of this thing with those dunks and one by Miles Plumlee as the only basketball we’ve seen. Unless the second half of this is a complete turnaround, it unfortunately appears as if last year’s broadcast yielded no lessons.

11:01 — No. No, no, no. That’s not true, Jay Williams. We know you filmed that teaser earlier, and that wasn’t live. But Duke isn’t ABOUT to hang their 2010 championship banner. It isn’t something that you will be revealing live on the broadcast. It already happened. These guys need to quit telling us what’s GOING to happen on these broadcasts. Is this what ESPN-U has come to? They need to keep promising all the action toward the end so people will keep watching? The beauty of these Madness shows from several years ago on ESPN was that there was so much that was live and unscripted — remember Dick Vitale promising to buy that kid’s books at Cincinnati if the kid hit that half court shot for free tuition, then Vitale jumping on him in celebration when the guy nailed it?!? — but, even more than last year, this feels heavily scripted and processed. By the way, here’s a shot of the Duke banner being unveiled, coming from Twitter follower @howierhee:

11:05 — Ladies and gentlemen….BASKETBALL! Two hours and five minutes in, we get some shots of St. John’s scrimmaging, and we still got to hear Lavin talk to Gottlieb. See? We get the conversation AND the basketball. That’s what we want. Even just seeing the players and fans on the screen for that short time, through the television, you can tell there’s a different vibe among those players and fans. It’s doubtful that the Johnnies will achieve the kind of success they want as quickly as NYC sports fans usually demand, but we see Lavin getting that program back on track (by the way, it’s not “untracked,” which is not a real word) relatively quickly.

11:14Tubby Smith enters Tubby’s Tipoff in Minnesota on a motorcycle.

11:15 — Gonzaga scrimmage! Is that the new Zags uniform? The strange pin-stripe pattern on the whites? Since they crossed the halfway point, ESPN has featured more hoops. The voice-over analysis plus scrimmage combo is the way to go. Devil his due…they’ve gotten it right in the second half of this so far. Steven Gray hit a couple of threes, the second one with a little, um, drift to the right, my goodness. Check out the international flavor on the Zags, though. Six international players? Heck, they’re starting to look like St. Mary’s. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

11:25 –Kentucky scrimmage, now. If they show it, there’s a nice dunk by Brandon Knight over 7-footer Josh Harrelson in transition. Video if we can locate it. ESPN-U is fulfilling it’s earlier promises now. Telling graphic there, about Darius Miller averaging 20.7 points during that trip to Canada in the summer. The thing is, Calipari needs vocal leadership as much as point production from Miller this year.

11:32 — Duke scrimmage. Duke’s guards already showing how they’re going to be tormenting the ACC all year long by darting into the lane and getting pull-ups and runners. True, it’s the first practice, and it’s not even a practice, so things are understandably sloppy. But the Duke guards already look stupidly fast. But Irving looks silky and Nolan Smith looks like he’s gained a step.

11:48 — Memphis scrimmage. ESPN-U has stepped up and delivered. Will Barton looks like he’s going at about 20% speed but still looks like greased freakin’ lightning. Wes Witherspoon has had about five dunks, including that last NASTY one off an alley-oop where he seemingly turned in mid-air to throw it down. Whew.

12:00 AM, 10/16/2010 — Midnight. Only the true lunatics are left. We had a slight techincal difficulty there, but it’s fixed and we have a LOT of video coming your way in a second. By the way, ESNP-U gave us a lot of time watching Kansas State’s scrimmage, and let’s get three things straight: 1) how awesome is it that Jacob Pullen was playing in his sweatpants? 2) Nick Russell hit a three from the logo, right as Fran Fraschilla said that KSU needed another marksman to step up and help Pullen, which was nice timing, and 3) Pullen STILL HAS a beard, it’s just trimmed. No need to panic.

12:11 — OK, now a slew of videos…

Intros at Late Night With Roy:

Gary Williams with a little Top Gun theme at Maryland Madness:

Memphis intros from the floor at Memphis Madness:

A little dunk contest action at Creighton:

Marquette Madness intro video:

And West Virginia gets banner-happy at Mountaineer Madness:

12:24 — That’s a great leadoff question by Katz — why should the start of this season at UCLA be any different from the start of last year? Ben Howland’s answer is honest, citing his three returning starters (Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson, Malcolm Lee) as a good core to start with, but we’ll see. UCLA really bummed a lot of people out last year (as did the whole Pac-10), and it will take some doing to convince hoopheads that UCLA is really legit and is ready to contend. Howland’s still one of the best in that business, though, and there’s no doubt he’s one of the few in the game who can exact such a huge turnaround in a single season.

12:38 — We want to again give props to whoever came up with the idea of using the “U” on ESPN-U as the mascot in those bumper slides going in and out of video or commercials. Genius.

12:43 — Jimmy Dykes with a little temperance when talking about Kentucky. It’s going to be interesting to listen to and watch Kentucky fans this season as they transition from last year’s squad to this one, since it’ll be slightly less athleticism (that’s not saying much, since they still have ridiculous athletes compared to most everyone else) and more of the true Caliparian dribble-drive. That doesn’t mean they won’t be successful. They will. But this year’s success won’t look like last year’s, and last year was a dream for UK fans until the outside shot left the ‘Cats and the WVU 1-3-1 zone flummoxed them in the Elite Eight. But a different type of team and a different type of success doesn’t mean it’s not as good, or that it can’t go as far.

12:49 — We’ll go ahead and answer that question posed to Steven Bardo as to whether or not Memphis is an NCAA Tournament team. Yes. Yes they are. And you know what? I like that take from Bilas about Louisville. With all that’s happened to Rick Pitino over the summer, he can actually get a good motivational tool out of it, and that’s the “it’s us against the world, rally behind me” mentality. We know he has the talent in uniform. We know they’ll be good defensively and they’ll get better as the year progresses. If he can convince his players that it really is “us against the world” and that nobody’s respecting them, that squad WILL do better than people think.

12:56 — I know Gottlieb was doing P90X as recently as last year, and it looks like he finished it. Guy looks different. Eyes have hollowed a little. Can’t comment on the rest, and probably wouldn’t if I could, no disrespect to him.

12:58 — The ESPN-U crew wraps it up. And the broadcast restarts.

1:00 — Well, all-in-all, not a bad night. ESPN-U scared us for the first half of the broadcast, and made us think we’d have a repeat of last year’s performance that featured 90% talk. But then they REALLY delivered in the second two hours with more basketball while still giving us the commentary and analysis. We had a taste of Dickie V, we had some Final Four predictions, and we got a quick glimpse of some of the new stars on the scene (*ahem* Will Barton). Let’s be honest, this night isn’t about true analysis; you can’t handicap anything from the first practice-that-isn’t-a-practice. It’s about fun, and celebrating the return of our game. Tomorrow, the television will be dominated by college football again, but we can now realistically say that our sport is back, that it’s in season. The banners have been hung and unveiled. The early predictions have been made. Dickie V, though via remote locale, has clocked in. In 10-14 days, you’ll start hearing about intrasquad scrimmages. In about three weeks, exhibition games. In a little less than a month…actual games. It’s basketball season, folks. Welcome back.

Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you on the road!


jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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