Let me just begin by saying that I can probably go the rest of my life without seeing the father of our country make a Martha sandwich and then embark on an alternative lifestyle.
Having said that, “Midnight Madness” was the most unbelievable, pull-out-all-the-stops, over-the-top, I-can’t believe-there’s-5,000-people-here, greatest-show-on-earth that I think that The George Washington University has ever put on. And they played basketball, too!
From the spotlights to the line as far as I could see, the beginning of the night already left me wondering where all these people had come from. Apparently the admissions department had finally added that “Are you a basketball fan?” question I had been requesting.
There was more going on at “Midnight Madness” than I could possibly comment on. And unlike some other people, I loved it all. I don’t know how anyone could complain that there was too much. Oh, wait, yes I do. They must have forgot or did not attend a little something Mike Jarvis liked to call “Colonial Madness.” This pulse-pounding event used to be held at, like, 7 p.m. There were no scrimmages, no explosions – heck, they didn’t even turn off the lights. You could taste the self-loathing in the room.
Now, here we are with a “Midnight Madness” that I dare any school in the country to beat. I even enjoyed the dancing Georges, although as Big George did his thing, I was quite confident he wasn’t the only George spinning. I even liked the bicycle show. Between the bicycle skid marks, the baton-twirler setting the floor on fire, and the bottle thrown on the court, I spent a great deal of time imagining Athletic Director Jack Kvancz ripping his hair out.
Then came the basketball. Glen Harris of NewsChannel 8, whatever that is, obviously needed a pronunciation guide, but it didn’t matter too much, because I couldn’t hear what he was saying anyways. Not that a valiant (SirValiant Brown, that is – THE BEST NAME IN COLLEGE SPORTS!) attempt at volume wasn’t made. I’m sure the parents think those giant speakers and flashing lights are always up there. What did we pay for this monstrosity?! Whatever it was, it was worth it.
But back to the actual basketball, which – give or take 20 full scholarships and some fat salaries – costs us nothing. The teams looked, well, a little ragged, but I think that anybody who took Friday night’s performance too seriously is forgetting that A.) That’s why they practice, and B.) Well, there is no B., but can I mention here that Mark Lund almost dunked?
But, I guarantee the products that debut in Alaska (men) and Nashville, Tenn. (women), will be far superior than the dunking/turnover machines you saw the other night. Not that I want everything to go away. Like seeing Bernard Barrow blow past defenders or Patrick Ngongba and Jason Smith absolutely killing the ball. Seriously, that stuff was n-n-n-n-nasty. Even Mike King is reverse-jamming now? Where did that come from?. Someone’s been prac-ti-cing.
So, the basketball was entertaining, and I don’t fault people who left before the scrimmages. When the lights came on and the smoke cleared, it was hard for mere human beings to seem anything but anticlimactic. That’s OK. For the first time Friday night, I wasn’t jealous of a single school in America. When they had to move those stands back because the place was about to bust, I was proud to be a student at GW. And that’s exactly what they wanted.
And if even half those people come back to a game, they’ll have to add on to the student section. (Hey, get this Dick Vitale’s preseason preview came out last week, and the Smith Center was named the toughest gym in the Atlantic 10.)
The one thing that sums up Friday night is the idea that GW is finally a University. Sports always brings communities together, and community is not a word that’s used much around here. But basketball just fits here, and, for the first time, we all seemed to fit here. I hadn’t seen that particular brand of footloose fun since high school. Maybe it’s premature, and God knows I’m getting pretty excited since we’re still over a month away from an actual game. But Friday night, GW felt like a real university. May it do so again.