Tonight, as you may have heard, is Marquette Madness. That, of course, is the artist formerly known as "Midnight Madness" until the NCAA said it was ok to move it up a couple hours. It kind of makes me chuckle and think back to my first Marquette Madness, which was pretty damn lame. First, it was held the day after the rest of the relevant basketball world held their Midnight Madness, actually at midnight. It was held in the Old Gym, and there was about as much buzz as there is for a really, really exciting chess match. Mike Bargen and Jared Lovette were our senior leaders, Brian Wardle was the next MU superstar, and everyone was excited about freshman Cordell Henry; a guard with actual quickness and athleticism (i.e. not Bart Miller). Tonight will be held in a state of the art practice facility/arena on campus, named for the patron saint of MU hoops, there will be a bevy of top flight recruits both on the floor and watching from the stands, and people will be excited to get a glimpse of a revamped team that will be expected to once again compete for a NCAA berth, while playing in the toughest basketball conference ever conceived by man. I for one am STOKED. Less because I have overly high expectations for Marquette (which I'm sure I do), but more because I just fucking love college basketball.
The real season is still a ways off, and I'm sure that in between then and now everyone will make predictions and yell at each other about what the season will hold. But for now, this is what I will be looking for at Madness:
- The obvious thing everyone wants to see is the new guys. How do they look? How are they meshing with the returning guys? As if you can actually tell anything from some drills, a dunk contest and a scrimmage. But still, it's the first look at a team full of new faces.
-Of the new faces, everybody has one that they are especially interested in. I think mine is Erik Williams. Money and I were discussing him the other day and he said that he really thinks Williams is "flying under the radar," and I totally agree. There's been a lot of focus on the JUCO guys (Buycks and DJO), especially with the injury to Cadougan and the question marks at the point. Maymon has gotten a lot of attention for the last 2 years, being a local standout and all. But Williams seems to be kind of forgotten man out of all these guys. I really think he might be the guy that everyone walks away talking about tonight.
-How much juice will there be in the arena? I hope it's packed and live as hell in The Al tonight. However, I know there's a chance that that might not be the case. MU just graduated 3 of the best, most loved, most entertaining players in its history. The general assumption is that this is a rebuilding year for the program. Those kind of things could affect the turnout, or the amount of energy in the building tonight.
-How will Terri Mitchell's squad look this year after a somewhat disappointing 17-16 season in 08-09, that culminated with a loss a heartbreaking loss to Illinois St. in the 3rd round of the WNIT?*
All I do know is that I'm pretty fired up for tonight. Sprinkle in a couple cocktails and it should be a real fun night. See you guys at Murph's for a pregame car bomb.
*Statement required by Title IX