Bloomington, Ind.- The waiting for the 2003-04 basketball season to start has come to an end. At the stroke of midnight, the Indiana mens and womens basketball teams, stepped onto the Assembly Hall hardwood for the annual Midnight Madness celebrations and wowed a crowd of about 14, 000.
The jam-packed Assembly Hall was rowdy and very loud as Hoosier fans, dressed from head to toe in their cream and crimson, cheered on their beloved basketball teams.
Things got underway first with the fan favorite Slam Dunk contest. Freshman Patrick Ewing, Jr. stole the show with his behind the back left-handed dunk, earning straight 10s from the judges and bringing the fans on their feet.
When asked about his dunk, Ewing said it was one he had been practicing for awhile.
Ive seen it on a tape and have been working on it, said Ewing. Ive been working on it with A.J. Moye and one day I just pulled it off and havent missed one yet.
Ewing was amazed by the die-hard fans that came out to catch a glimpse of the teams for their first practice.
It was great. There were so many people here to support us. There is nothing like it.
Head coach Mike Davis was pleased to see the turnout of tonights crowd and is anxious that the 2003-04 season is now underway. Davis was particularly impressed with the play of Ewing.
He is a different type player, said Davis. Weve never had a player like him. He is so explosive and he plays hard. Hes going to help us a lot.
The sophomore duo of Marshall Strickland and Brigett Branson were a winning combination in the Spot Shot contest as they combined for 30 points.
From behind the arc, sophomore Cyndi Valentin defended her title, going head to head with junior Donald Perry in the finals. Valentin was hot from downtown, racking up 11 three-pointers on her way to winning the contest.
I wanted to come out and defend my 3-point champion title, said Valentin. I wanted to come out and shoot well, and I did that. I had a lot fun tonight. It was a good time. Its awesome coming out when they introduce us, and how much support the community has for us.
Freshman Sarah McKay, shared the excitement with Valentin and Ewing as she explained how great it was to perform in front of so many fans.
I have never experienced anything like this before, said McKay. Back home (Victoria, B.C. Canada) there is nothing compared to the amount of people who were here tonight. I was nervous at first, but when I got out here and saw how supportive everyone is, and the tons of people that came out, its just awesome. The fears went away and I just had a blast. It means a lot that there are so many people supporting us.
Head womens basketball coach, Kathi Bennett was more than pleased with the way things were run, and the turnout of fans.
Tonight shows that Indiana fans are the best in the country, said Bennett. I dont think there are too many places in the country that have this kind of atmosphere. I want to thank Coach Davis for having us be a part of this. He is an awesome coach and his heart is even bigger by including us in this, and letting us showcase our talents. We fed of the energy into our first practice and the beginning of the season. I am just thankful.
The night came to a close with the mens team playing a five on five scrimmage in their cream and crimson practice uniforms.
All in all, the madness was a success in more way than one. Not only were the fans pleased to catch a glimpse of their favorite basketball athletes, the SAAC brought in $700 as well as 12,803 canned food items, which was 3,000 more than last year to benefit the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.