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Eyewitness accounts of the Madness
Posted: Monday October 19, 1998 06:41 PM
CNN/SI asked for your firsthand accounts from Midnight Madness. Here's a selection of comments from around the nation:
The big question on everyone's minds at Cole Field House was "Who is Steve Francis, and what can he do?" We found out as Francis (wearing #23) amazed the crowd with several spectacular dunks. Laron Profit and Francis seemed to enjoy playing together, and combined for several great plays in the scrimmage.
The atmosphere was one of high expectations -- the words "Final Four" were heard in connection with the Terrapins for the first time in years. Time will tell, but for now at least, Steve Francis and the Terps did not disappoint.
I've been to Maryland's Midnight Madness each of the last 5 years. Even when Joe Smith was here, I've never seen Cole Field House so packed and so excited, so early. It was being like being at Cole for a Carolina game. The crowd was jacked. People were just crazy in anticipation of the introduction of guard Steve Francis. And he didn't disappoint! He put up a 360. Then a bounce-off-the-floor dunk. Finally he came flying in from halfcourt and took off from just inside the foul line. During the scrimmage he did what he wanted, when he wanted. He drew comparisons to Allen Iverson . Terrapins fans truly believe this is the final piece for Maryland's first Final Four.
Our Midnight Madness was pretty crazy. It started off with an alumni game where NBA players Keith Booth and Tony Massenburg dropped in. Walt "The Wizard" Williams was also in attendance. We also had our Gymkana team jumping through fire. But the real fun started just after midnight. The crowd was in a frenzy as the Terps made their way onto the court by walking down through the crowd. The biggest ovations came for Obinna Ekezie, Terrence Morris, Laron Profit and Steve Francis. Ahh yes ... Steve Francis. All I can say is, WOW!!!! This kid can play. He was doing his razzle-dazzle stuff and I can tell he will keep Cole Field House rocking all year. The team looked rusty, but it was only the first practice. But, I think that Maryland will be packing its bags for St. Pete and the Final Four in March. You guys at CNN/SI better keep some "Plays of the Day" set aside for Steve Francis. That kid can play.
Look out, ACC! The Terps are going to be a force this year. They have added depth and can go 2 or 3 deep at every position. There aren't many teams in the nation that can claim that.
Students and fans packed Cole Field House for the largest crowd ever at University of Maryland for Midnight Madness. It was a great atmosphere and it is going to be an incredible year here, the place where the Madness began! GO TERPS!!
KentuckyThis was our first Midnight Madness and it was one to remember. The festivities started a week ago when we got a group of friends together to camp out for tickets. We were not disappointed. The crowd was anticipating the appearance of the National Champion Wildcats. When Tubby Smith led his champion Cats onto the floor, we were lucky enough to be at the end of the ailse where some of the players came down. After they warmed up Tubby introduced his players again and they showed us their favorite dunks. Check out #42 Jamaal Magliore ... he is a stud, full of power. The team concluded with a scrimmage and then paid tribute to last years championship with "We are the Champions" blaring from the PA. It was a very exciting experience and we will be there again next year!! GO BIG BLUE!!!
--Steve LaMotte and Craig Krager
Two of the biggest stars around showed up for University of Florida's Midnight Madness. First, the Nature Boy himself, Ric Flair. Flair, a former member of the Four Horsemen, got the crowd revved up for the start of both the men's and women's hoop seasons. Flair used his "Whooo!" to get the crowd into the action. During Midnight Madness there was a slam-dunk contest and a 3-point contest, both won by former McDonald's All-American Mike Miller. Miller wowed the crowd with his lethal shooting range and with some explosive dunks (including a 360). When everyone thought it was over, head coach Billy "The Kid" Donovan announced that there was going to be one more special guest, none other than Dick Vitale. Vitale came out to a standing ovation, and raved about Florida basketball, Florida sports, and just the University of Florida in general. He spoke for a couple of minutes and was an extra bonus to an all-around great evening at U of F. GO GATORS!!
Look out college hoops world, RU is coming. The crowd at the RAC was the largest I have seen in my 5 years as a student. The night started with two local bands from 9-11. Then the fun really began. A couple of relay races where students had to put on an RU uniform and size-16 shoes, a shooting contest with players hand-picked from the audience by coach Kevin Bannon and local sportscaster Bruce Beck , and a very poor performance by the Rutgers freshman picked to take a $10,000 shot.
Then the team was introduced at midnight. Of the new recruits, Joel Salvi, the JUCO transfer out of Allegheny College in Maryland, looks like a really scrappy player with the most enthusiam on the team. Rashod Kent looks like RU's version of Tractor Traylor at 6'6", 260 lbs. But the class act has to be Dahntay Jones from Hamilton, N.J. I expect great things from him for his four years.
Great night, I had a blast. Looking forward to postseasons from both the men
and women. See you in March.
The start of what appears to be a great college basketball season here in Knoxville got off to a bang Friday night. Even with only a handful of students present, because of a poorly scheduled fall break, the crowd was loud and stayed on its feet from the introduction of the players at midnight. The festivities consisted of the introduction of the teams, as well as slam-dunk contests, 3-point shootouts, and intra-team scrimmages. The Lady Vols look to be more incredible than last year, and with the talent and depth present, should have another record-setting, and probably undefeated season. The Vols pick-up game left a good impression on the crowd. They have the depth and talent to beat any team in the nation. The two questions that surround them are the lack of experience in big games, and the lack of a winning tradition. If they can stay healthy, there is no question that they will go deep into March.
Cincinnati's Midnight Madness was great!!! The Shoemaker Center was wild!!! I got autographs from all the players and Bob Huggins. Melvin Levett and Kenyon Martin were the highlights. Melvin jumped over a golf cart and slam-dunked with one hand. Martin was dunking so hard, he about tore the rim off! The Bearcats are definitely a Top 10 team this year!!
It was our first attempt at Midnight Madness so we were very disorganized. Also, it's homecoming week and the crowd was filled with a lot of senior citizens, which took away some of the electricity. To add to it all, we looked like garbage. Lon Krueger has to weed out the trash if we're going to defend our Big Ten title. I am already thinking about next year.
Midnight Madness was the first basketball event in our new Reed Arena. It was awesome. The atmosphere was electric. Especially when the men's team had the dunk contest. They had lots of money and gift certificates to give away to the fans who could act the craziest, dress the craziest, make the most long shots, all that stuff. I think our team will be much improved over last year's 1 win, I-don't-know-how-many losses Big 12 record. With our new coach Melvin Watkins coming from UNC Charlotte, the guys are pumped, and the fans are expecting good things.
Just got back from the first slam-dunk contest in probably the history of the school. See ya in St. Petersburg.
IndianaAssembly Hall was packed with Hoosiers, and the atmosphere was great. The students were geeked anyway because it was Indiana's homecoming weekend. At 12:01 a.m. the 1998-99 Hoosiers came out looking good. I think the players responded with a great scrimmage, because when they came out, the students showed so much support. And what is a Indiana Hoosiers Midnight Madness without Mr. Bobby Knight . Coach Knight was calm this morning, but not for long if his Hoosiers don't give him what he wants. This is Londell Marina, reporting from Bloomington, Indiana, in my dorm room at the campus of Indiana University.
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