Blog Entry

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

Posted on: October 18, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2009 12:11 am

I'm back home after a quick trip to Kansas , doing some reading and trying to catch up on what happened at some other Midnight Madness festivities. Seems a lot of places had record nights -- among them Michigan State.

The Breslin Center was filled to capacity with 14,759 fans.

That's the first sellout at MSU in Midnight Madness history.

Tom Izzo entered in an Indy car because the 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis.

"I know what it's like to drive an Indy car," Izzo told the crowd. "I hope I know what it's like to play in Indianapolis."

Meantime, Clemson's Oliver Purnell rapelled from the top of Littlejohn Coliseum, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim drove a police car into the Carrier Dome (Was he looking for Eric Devendorf?), and Kentucky's John Calipari gave a 10-minute speech to 24,000 fans at Rupp Arena, and he delivered the following line: "Our history is rooted in our coaches: Rupp and Hall and Smith."

That's Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith.

Notably missing: Former UK coach Rick Pitino.

I'm certain it was not an oversight.

Anyway, a scan of the country showed there were many great events. But the neatest of all Madness ceremonies might've been at Memphis, where more than 18,000 fans filled FedExForum to celebrate a 32-year-old head coach and his eight healthy scholarship players who are unranked and enduring a period of NCAA probation. Understand, it is not normal for the Tigers to fill FedExForum for Memphis Madness. Even when Calipari was the coach, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the stars, and the team was ranked No. 1 in's preseason Top 25 (and one) , the building was not full for this event. But on Friday night the doors had to be closed and people were turned away, and I was enjoying a conversation with former Missouri State coach Barry Hinson -- now the director of external relations at Kansas -- when I got a text about the scene and shared the news.

"I'm so happy for Josh," Hinson said. "The fans were making a statement, weren't they?"

Absolutely, it was a statement.

It was a statement to Calipari and the nation, a statement from a city determined to convince itself (and the prospects in attendance) that it will move along fine despite a rough few months. Since the end of last season, the Tigers have lost their coach, recruiting class and 2008 Final Four banner. They also watched one recruit (Latavious Williams) not enroll to pursue a professional career overseas, and one player (Shawn Taggart) not return to pursue a professional career, well, who knows where?

Additionally, Angel Garcia tore his ACL in an offseason workout.

Memphis is not picked to win C-USA.

And yet more than 18,000 people still made the trip downtown to celebrate the past and the future, and it's worth noting that a five-minute montage shown on the video board featured pictures and clips of every relevant former player and coach ... except Calipari, who was omitted completely.

"It  was a great statement by the city," Pastner said by phone. "I was blown away. It was unreal. And that's what's great about Memphis Basketball, and it's what I've tried to tell people. Memphis Basketball was good way before I was even born, and it's going to be good long after I'm gone. Memphis basketball is not about one individual or two individuals. It has a rich tradition, and the fans are really proud of the program, and they showed it [Friday] night."

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: October 19, 2009 9:20 am

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

Interesting observation -- the two former coaches who were completely left out of their old team's Madness celebrations. They do have a lot in common, don't they?

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: October 18, 2009 10:18 pm

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

Way to Go Oliver!

Rappelling from the ceiling! That would give me the willies just being up that high with only a rope holding me up. Funny, if I kept my eyes closed, it might not bother me! I've been to the top of the Sears Tower, no problem. I've been 'almost' to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, just couldn't go up there where there is nothing but air!Embarassed

Reminds me of the  (what is now old version of ) SuperMan Movie with Margot Kidder & Chris Reeves... Superman catches Margo and says "Don't worry, I've got you." her reply is classic, "If you've got me, who's got you?"

Good luck in Clemson Tiger land!

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: October 18, 2009 9:48 pm

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

I live in Atlanta and was getting text messages from family and friends attending the event in Memphis that were blown away with the turn out and the feel of the forum.  Coach P has to feel some sense of relief knowing that the city is behind him full bore.  Its great that the haters had to read articles like this one that showed that UM might be down but not out.  We will see with that NCAA says on appeal, keep recruiting and hoping to land some Top 100 bigs to add to the collection of guards committed so far.  Just a note to add #12 Joe Jackson dropped in 60 points last night in a Top 80 game.  Go Tigers!!!!

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: October 18, 2009 8:48 pm

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

*facepalms* I'm just glad Oliver didn't hurt himself! But it is fun to be a part of the madness! B-ball is coming! And there was much rejoicing!

Since: Mar 8, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2009 6:14 pm

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation


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