|This intersection will be the site of Pitt's first practice of the 2012-13 season. (Pittsburgh Athletics)|
Why don't they do it in the road?
Outdoor basketball feels like acoustic guitar. There's something more organic about it when opposed to its more popular/practical alternative. Climate will always dictate the majority of organized hoop to be held under the confines of a roof, but that doesn't mean people don't love the spectacle of ball happening among the fresh air.
The game on the aircraft carrier last year was much-ballyhooed, and in fact earned a respectable TV audience. The experiment worked so well, we'll be having three games on ships come November. Something about organized outdoor basketball really brings out the curiosity in us. Picture inner-city parks lined with people pressed against the cage, fingers clasped through the diamond-like holes in the wire. Day or night, playground/outdoor basketball is an addictive joy.
So give credit to Pittsburgh, which can't be the first one to this idea (but is it? I can't recall any other program doing it), but nevertheless will make for arguably the most distinctive season-opening celebration. The basketball team will hold its Midnight Madness festiveness outside, at a major street intersection on campus.
It happens on Friday, Oct. 12, the first day/night men's and women's college hoops teams across the country can begin officially practicing for the upcoming season. The big event is being put on not just because of the novelty, but also in coordination with the 225-year anniversary of the school's founding.
The picture up above is where the jamboree's going down, on Bigelow Boulevard. The big building to the left there is the university's Cathedral of Learning. The surprising aspect of this: it's the first Midnight Madness for Pitt in nine years. In other words: not since Jamie Dixon took over for Ben Howland. It's unusual because most good programs don't opt out of throwing this kind of party (though Louisville notably does not have a Midnight Madness either).
"Lights and portable bleachers will be built, along with a video board," a school press release states. "The teams will be introduced to the crowd and conduct several contests and promotional activities. Admission is free and open to the public."
Apparently fireworks and a laser show will also be factored in. Someone grab "Dark Side" and make this thing epic in full.
Of course, if Mother Nature decides to complicate things, then it's everyone into the Petersen Events Center, where of course the team plays its home games. And plays them quite well: Pitt is 164-19 all-time at the Pete, and the upcoming season will mark the 11th year the venue's been open.
For a second, closer view, this is the exact location of the event. See you at the crossroads.
|Bigelow Boulevard, on the campus of Pittsburgh, where the team's Midnight Madness will be held in October. (Pitt Athletics)|