Bball gets off to a maddening start

After staggering across the court and sinking a lay-up to win the dizzy-bat competition, Jihad Beauchman ’06 showed off his basketball skills by making two dunks.

“That’s why they call it madness,” master of ceremonies and lightweight crew head coach Andy Card said.

From 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday night, about 1000 Yale students packed into the John J. Lee Amphitheater for Midnight Madness to kick off the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ seasons. According to NCAA rules, basketball teams cannot start practicing until Oct. 16.

As the fans danced to music, students participated in various contests for prizes. Three students from Davenport College won the college shootout by making 22 baskets in one minute, earning them a pizza party before a home game. Beauchman won a PlayStation 2 for his efforts in the dizzy-bat competition. Other winners included Jay Goldklang ’05, who won a t-shirt and a gift certificate; Samir Sur ’06, who won an I-Pod mini; and Kunal Rambhia ’07, who won free books for a semester after missing a half-court shot for a spring break trip.

Pat O’Neill, Yale’s assistant athletic director for marketing, said that the Athletic Department and Yale College Council had been organizing the event for two to three weeks. The last time Midnight Madness took place was in 2002, the season after the men won the Ivy League championship. Last year, however, circumstances did not permit the event to be held, O’Neill said.

“We always wanted to do it,” O’Neill said. “It’s a great kick-off, it helps the men’s and women’s teams, and I think it unifies the student community.”

The atmosphere in the stands throughout the night was electric, Alex Goot ’05 said. Goot is a correspondent for WYBC radio and covered basketball last year.

“I think it’s a pretty good showing,” Goot said. “If they start the season strong they are going to see some really big crowds.”

After the contests ended at midnight, the lights went dim as the fans cheered the introduction of the men’s and women’s teams and coaching staff. Starting with freshmen and progressing to the upperclassmen, each player ran out from under the giant inflated bulldog as his or her name was called. Some did little dances and gave teammates high fives, and it was evident that they were all excited for the season to be starting.

“Last year, we didn’t have one and it didn’t set a good tone,” Yale guard Casey Hughes ’07 said. “With the fans here, it sets a great tone and helps get us support.”

Hughes won the dunk contest, which started after the teams did some warm-up shooting. His dunk off of an one-handed alley-oop from teammate Josh Greenberg ’06 was judged best. Juan Wheat ’06 and Dexter Upshaw ’06 tied for second in the competition.

Other competitions included the “2-ball” competition, which men’s captain Alex Gamboa ’05 and women’s forward Chinenye Okafor ’07 teamed up to win. After the competitions and shooting were over, the night concluded. Both fans and staff alike said they thought it was a success.

“It was a lot of fun,” Andom Ghebreghiorgis ’07 said. “It brings the fans closer. Building up for the first practice also brings energy to the team, especially after not being able to practice during the summer.”

O’Neill expressed similar sentiments.

“No question that it helps,” O’Neill said. “Students see that basketball is right around the corner.”

A Jonathan Edwards College student takes a shot during Friday’s Midnight Madness, which kicked off the basketball season.
Laura Warren
A Jonathan Edwards College student takes a shot during Friday’s Midnight Madness, which kicked off the basketball season.

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