When the clock strikes midnight

Midnight Madness was a good idea in theory. Then again, so was communism.

The reality of Midnight Madness was too many mediocre halftime show-type entertainers placed back-to-back-to-back and not enough of our basketball teams. As a result, the athletic department is considering abandoning Midnight Madness for something different. Something a little more tranquil.

The new plan could be an open practice on Saturday. Fans come in, watch the team, have some food and talk about basketball. This is a good idea and something we should do. But I don’t think it will get people excited. I don’t think it will conjure up any of the emotion this school needs.

We should keep Midnight Madness. We just have to change it. A lot.

These past few years, Family (now Colonials) Weekend has been scheduled around the first Saturday that the teams are allowed to practice. Midnight Madness has taken place on Friday night, allowing the players to come out the moment they can touch a ball at midnight. Then on Saturday night there is a comedy act, such as Jay Leno this past year.

Let’s switch those nights. Have the comedy act on Friday night and have Midnight Madness on Saturday night. I realize that takes away from the concept of starting the minute the season technically begins, but the problem of Midnight Madness has been a lack of basketball.

The event should start at 10 p.m. Saturday, so the players can be involved leading up to midnight, at which point there is some climax.

Assuming we move it to Saturday, we have to give people a reason to show up and be excited. A big reason.

As people walk in, hand them a ticket. On each ticket, put the name of a men’s basketball player and a women’s basketball player. Number the tickets as well.

After an hour or two of various things (to be described in a moment), have each player from both teams shoot a half-court shot starting right at midnight. This will be the climax. Have the whole night build up to this.

If one of the players makes his or her half-court shot, then everyone with that player’s name on a ticket wins something. Nothing too big, but something they would appreciate winning.

Then, of those winning tickets, draw one big winner. If none of the players made the shot, draw a number from the entire crowd for a winner.

That student gets to come down and shoot a half-court shot, too.

If they make it, they win tuition for a semester.

All right, I know everyone just rolled their eyes. But guess what? At Duke’s Midnight Madness, someone gets to shoot a half-court shot for tuition. How that person is selected, I don’t remember. But that’s the top basketball program in the country, with the best fan support, and that’s what we should be striving for.

Besides, in the scheme of things, $15,000 won’t mean too much for the school. But it will mean a ton to that student. And this is all assuming they actually make the shot, so it’s not like the school is automatically giving money away each year.

If everyone in attendance has a chance to win tuition for a semester, then every single student on this campus is going to be there. They’d be crazy not to.

So now that we’ve got all students in the Smith Center, excited about their chances at midnight, what do we do for two hours? Watch roller skaters go up and down ramps? No.

We make it all about the players and the students. Introduce the men’s and women’s teams at 10 p.m. and then have the players involved the whole time.

Have both teams compete in a skills competition. If the men win, one side of the gym wins something. Vice versa for the women. Give everyone a reason to care, and make it exciting.

Have coaches Hobbs and McKeown play a game of HORSE. Again, one side of the gym is for Hobbs and the other side for McKeown.

Draw two numbers from our tickets and let those two students have a three-point contest with Cathy Joens and Greg Collucci. If the two students win, they get a big prize. If the players win, all the other students get a small prize.

Let the teams come up with some chants and then teach them to the fans. Right now all we have is “Let’s go G-dub,” “DEE-fense, clap clap,” and several variations of telling the other team it sucks. The core of great college fans is being loud and having good, original chants. Let’s learn some new ones, and let the players teach us. After all, we’re chanting for them.

There are just so many ways to get the students and players interacting. I don’t see how it wouldn’t be both fun and exciting. I don’t see how it could fail.

Now I realize all these giveaways aren’t good for the school’s bottom line. But that’s exactly why this would work.

The perception at this University is that the people running it care more about money than the actual students.

If we make Midnight Madness all about the students and the players, it will definitely work. Let us have fun with our basketball teams for a couple hours. Let us win cool stuff and have the chance to win valuable stuff. Let us be important.

This Midnight Madness will make us feel good about our University and our basketball teams, and that will make us proud of GW. That will give us the school spirit that is so painfully absent right now.

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