From Durham to Lawrence and Points Between: Recapping Midnight Madness Around the CountryPosted by rtmsf on October 17th, 2011
The official start of college basketball tipped off Friday night with celebratory practices, scrimmages, dunk contests and other silliness from campuses across the nation. While we’re on record that this collection of events now misnamed as “Midnight Madness” has lost its way, we’re not enough of a stick-in-the-mud to chasten anyone over what amounts to a bunch of good, clean fun. The important thing is that for 345 Division I basketball schools, another journey has begun. Your hungry eye are telling you that the returning players look a little quicker; the new recruits jump a little big higher; and, your belief that once again anything is possible is as certainly ingrained in fans in October as it is that the orange, yellow and red leaves on the trees will no longer be there soon. Welcome to next year, everyone.
On Friday night we took a real-time look at some of the interesting things going on around the country; yesterday we published the best 13 dunks from Midnight Madnesses around the land. Today, let’s review how some of the bluebloods from around the sport rang in the new season.
Kansas. The neatest thing that the Jayhawks have made into a tradition is their annual Aerosmith “Dream On” montage as a part of Late Night in the Phog. This year’s version was no less spine-tingling than some of the others — they do a great job with it, and one thing we hadn’t seen before was KU superstar Danny Manning dunking all over the Russian national team (CCCP) after they tried to muscle him around back in the day. The fact that a program as storied and historic as this one is considered “irrelevant” in conference realignment nonsense really ticks us off.
Kentucky. Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness is always over the top to the point of mimicking the pageantry of a political convention, and this year was no different. John Calipari’s fresh crop of blue-chippers were introduced to the cheering masses at Rupp Arena, but keep in mind that this team returns a fair amount of experienced talent too. Anthony Davis “ought to be outlawed.” We had the same reaction to his gazelle-like body and athleticism as we did with UConn’s Andre Drummond. Those two will be fun to watch this season. But the pressure in Lexington is once again on: remember, at UK, they only raise banners for Final Fours and National Championships.
Here’s a highlights package of the entire proceeding. Tell us Calipari isn’t running for office up there on that podium!
Duke. Duke’s Countdown to Craziness is always a good time, and this year was no different. The highlight was perhaps the new Kountdown clock that now exists in Cameron Indoor Stadium to track Mike Krzyzewski’s approach toward the all-time record for wins in the sport (902).
Austin Rivers also put on a show for the crowd, hitting three treys in a seven-minute span, showing his array of moves to get open and exceptional range. BIAH put together a nice highlight video of the entire evening’s worth of action.
Finally, leave it to the Dookies to come up with a so-bad-it’s-good video skit involving the players popping up around campus.
Michigan State. Tom Izzo is making a name for himself with his annual cavalcade of interesting costumes and entrances to the Breslin Center at Midnight Madness. This year’s Top Gun outfit (replete with a miniature F-16) paid homage to the Carrier Classic game that the Spartans will take part in against North Carolina on Veteran’s Day next month. If we’re lucky enough to make Obama’s cut, we hope to be there.
Syracuse. The Legends Game at Syracuse, headlined by former stars Carmelo Anthony, John Wallace, Wes Johnson and a host of other former Orange(men), was a hit in the Carrier Dome Friday night. We think we even saw Jim Boeheim crack a smile in the below clip, didn’t we?
There was also this.
North Carolina. Late Night With Roy pretty much always involves Roy Williams awkwardly busting a move or two on the hardwood. The fascination with dancing at his Midnight Madness events is, well, fascinating itself — somewhere deep inside that guy’s heart, we think that he really hoped to have a career on Broadway rather than Franklin Street.
“This… is Carolina basketball.” The nation’s consensus #1 team returns all five starters as Roy Williams goes for his third title in Chapel Hill.
Connecticut. UConn celebrated its 2011 national championship team at its First Night event Friday with a video commemorating Kemba and company’s march through the Big East and NCAA Tournaments last March/April. There’s even a Jim Nantz “top dog… best in show” reference, and we know how you’ve been waiting to hear that again all summer!
Sophomore Jeremy Lamb also found time to teach UConn president Susan Herbst the “Lamb Shake.” Please don’t ever make us what that again.
Maryland. It was a night of new and old at the school that started this thing called Midnight Madness some 40 years ago, with new head coach Mark Turgeon running the show but Terp legend Gary Williams making an appearance with his patented fist-pump. Williams said he came back not to upstage Turgeon’s opening night but to see his old players, many of whom were back for the Alumni Game (including several from the 2002 national champions).
That’s enough. The fun of Midnight Madness is over — it’s time to get to some real basketball. Three weeks.