Midnight Madness 2008 Recap: Legends Live On
Oct. 21, 2008
Midnight Madness 2008 Recap: Legends Live On
The phrase itself doesn’t quite make sense any longer.
Thanks to relaxed NCAA regulations, the Lefty Driesell-inspired era of 12 o’clock layup lines has been left behind. After all the singing, dancing, shouting and dunking last Friday night, I walked out of McDonough Arena (to the soundtrack of the still-impressive Jumbotron video from last season) at exactly one minute beforef 11pm.
Was there at least some form of Madness going down at McD on Friday night?
I’m not entirely sure of that either.
When it comes to organizing the annual kickoff for the men’s basketball season, madness is the last word that might come to mind when describing the program put together by the Athletic Department.
In my day, Midnight Madness meant a few time-honored constants: flying elbows in the mad crush to get in the doors; hours of contests involving pizza boxes; long delays between acts; and Bubba Sparxxx’s broken microphone.
How times have changed. Entrance to Midnight Madness—now restricted almost exclusively to Georgetown students—is determined by a colored wristband and controlled by a series of metal barriers forming a line ably maintained by DOPS officers. The entertainment program is a tightly-run ship—the GU Step Team, Groove Theory, a single shooting contest, a special guest appearance by R&B up-and-comer JacQui Rice (you may remember her dad from the San Francisco 49ers…or this video) all performed in the space of 49 minutes.
The microphones…still need work.
In fact, the most spontaneous happening during the Midnight Madness 2008 program (other than a surprise guest we’ll get to in a moment) was the sudden flooding of the floor with 100 or so students during an impromptu dance session just before lights-out time at 9:45.
Even Bill Raftery had trouble drawing a crowd at first. When I arrived at the McDonough parking lot a little past 7:30, I caught GU Ticket Office wunderkind Steve Alleva doing his darndest to muster up a crowd of gray-clad students in front of Raftery’s position on the ESPNU set for a television cutaway shot. Steve ultimately managed to coax a few dozen undergrads away from the GUGS burger line, and you the home viewer were comforted to know school spirit is alive and well at Georgetown.
The unofficial caretakers of school spirit on the Hilltop of course are the student volunteers of Hoya Blue, who I chatted with just after the doors opened at 8:17pm while they performed arguably the most important task of the night: handing out light-up pom-poms.
Or, perhaps, their most important task of the night—maybe the season— for Hoya Blue was the unveiling of the slogan for the 2008-2009 edition of the now-ubiquitous “We Are Georgetown” t-shirts. Following the trend of orderliness and structure in post-Bubba Sparxxx promotions, the slogan was chosen from many dozen student submissions whittled down to five that competed in an online vote through HoyaBlue.net.
At 9:07pm we had a winner:
Our Heroes Change
The Legend Lives On
Hmmmm…not a bad way to describe Midnight Madness 2008.
It’s undeniable that the 2008-2009 basketball season is a transition year for the Hoyas. The senior class that arrived on the Hilltop with John Thompson III in 2004 and helped lead Georgetown to the Final Four three seasons later have all departed. There is a better than even chance the Hoyas will start three underclassmen this season. You need look no further than a roster to realize—our heroes are changing this year.
But a little under an hour after the 2008-2009 shirt slogan was revealed, we had our first example of its message. Standing underneath Jeff Green’s #22 Seattle Supersonics jersey, and with Jeff’s mother in the crowd, it was the Hibbert family’s turn to unveil their son’s #55 Indiana Pacers jersey. A few minutes later, John Thompson III introduced the night’s special guest, the man who inspired Roy Hibbert to wear the #55 jersey, former Hoya great Dikembe Mutombo.
Dikembe hit a few of the common notes in the song and dance of pep rally speaking—most notably calling for another BIG EAST Championship—but the one theme he kept returning to had little to do with basketball.
One of great defensive centers of all-time told the crowd of students in McDonough he was proud most of all of being able to attend one of the greatest universities in the world.
When I think about the “Legend” of Georgetown basketball these days, I gravitate more towards what Dikembe spoke about. While a look at the north wall of McDonough will tell you that Georgetown basketball produces its fair share of NBA players, you need look no further than someone like Dikembe Mutombo to tell you we produce our fair share of Big Men off the court.
How interesting on a night dedicated to the start of the basketball season that the keynote speaker, if you will, talked about the great university he attended, and not a single mention was made of the 2008 NCAA Tournament banner that was surreptitiously added to the rafters.
Maybe we’ve got the right idea after all with Midnight Madness.
It’s not at Midnight…and as far as Madness goes, you’d have likely found a rowdier party on the Village A rooftops than in the McDonough parking lot on Friday night.
Our coach didn’t show up in a yellow sports car.
Or a costume.
And the closest we came to any pyrotechnics were those glowing pom-poms.
In the end, Georgetown’s Midnight Madness 2008 probably won’t be remembered as the party of the year. But the legend…and the legends…of Hoya basketball celebrated on Friday will live on long past the next stroke of Midnight.
With that, only about 27 strokes of Midnight left until the season begins.
John Hawkes (SFS ’04)
Proud Member of Generation Burton