After the Madness: Highlights From The First ACC PracticesPosted by KCarpenter on October 17th, 2011
The University of Maryland invented Midnight Madness in 1971 under legendary coach Lefty Driesell. That makes last Friday the 40th anniversary of the very first Madness. Terrapin fans turned out in droves for the event, but, sadly, the history of the event and the Maryland program seemed to overshadow the future. The highlight of the event was an alumni game that included many members of the 2002 National Championship squad as well as other famous basketball alumni, like Grievis Vasquez. Fans were happy to see Steve Blake, Chris Wilcox, and Steve Francis, but the largest ovation was for legendary coach and recent retiree Gary Williams. It’s nice that Maryland was able to celebrate and savor it’s proud basketball tradition, but the fact that new head coach Mark Turgeon and the current Maryland squad were overshadowed by the looming legends of the past doesn’t bode well for this season.
Meanwhile, at Duke, the focus was squarely on the new guys, specifically, the highly-touted Austin Rivers. Rivers showed off his range and touch by sinking his first three three-pointers in the intra-squad scrimmage before he began struggling in the second half. Despite this slight letdown, Blue Devils fans have no cause for sadness: Rivers looks like he will be fine. Other highlights of the night? Seth Curry. He absolutely dominated the game, scoring 28 points in 24 minutes to go along with a pair of steals and four assists. Besides the scrimmage, there was also a dunk contest judged by J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, which was won by Miles Plumlee. That said I think Jim Sumner at Duke Basketball Report summed it up best:
The evening concluded with a dunk contest that demonstrated conclusively that seven-footers can dunk a basketball if no one is guarding them and they don’t actually have to dribble the basketball.
Meanwhile, down the road in Chapel Hill, Late Night With Roy went off with its usual combination of goofy dancing, skits, and a half-hearted scrimmage. There was a nice moment where they played a video tribute to Late Night host, ESPN anchor, and noted North Carolina alumnus and partisan, Stuart Scott. The tribute concluded with Roy Williams announcing that $20,000 were being donated to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Scott’s name. Scott is a two-time cancer survivor and was noticeably choked up. It was a gracioius moment in an event that has otherwise been highlighted in recent years by awkward white guys named “Tyler” trying to dance. As for the actual scrimmage, it was about what you would expect: Harrison Barnes dominated the game scoring with almost too much ease while Kendall Marshall ran his team with heads-up poise. More exciting for Tar Heel fans was the sight of a bulked up John Henson, who had gained twenty pounds, and was showcasing a greater offensive repertoire around the basket as well as improved range on his jump shot. The most important aspect of the night for UNC, however, was that the audience in the Dean Smith Center was having a good time, particularly because the audience included top-prospect T.J. Warren, who seemed to really enjoy the festivities.
The Jam With Ham at Seminole Madness simply could not live up to it’s possibly-too-awesome moniker, but things still went pretty well at Florida State: the players made a grand entrance courtesy of a stretch Hummer and a liberal use of fireworks, took part in three-point shooting and dunk contests, and played a ridiculously short twelve-minute scrimmage. Devidas Dulkys stood out by winning the three-point contest and looked ready to win the dunk contest for the third straight year until he was disqualified for excessive celebration and prop use for grabbing some cheerleader’s pom-poms after a particularly vicious alley-oop. There was also some dancing. The less said about that, the better.
Finally, N.C. State fans had cause for dismay when they heard that D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera made an appearance at Georgetown‘s Midnight Madness instead of theirs. Smith-Rivera had narrowed down his list to Georgetown and N.C. State and was expected to announce for one school or the other on Saturday. Of course, by appearing at Georgetown on the eve of the announcement, any bit of mystery about his decision evaporated, and sure enough, on Saturday, Smith-Rivera committed to the Hoyas.