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Northeastern Midnight Madness

October 21, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeastern Midnight Madness

by Phil Kasiecki

Perhaps you could call it “Back with a vengeance”.

For the first time since 1998, Northeastern held Midnight Madness to mark the start of practice for college basketball teams. They didn’t half-step; everything started before 10 PM, with music and several contests for the students highlighting the evening before midnight struck. The cheerleaders, consistently ranked among the best in the nation, also got a good crowd going and showed their skills on a few occasions. The crowd was bigger than that of most home games at Solomon Court last season, although this year’s team might get a few more people in the seats since they should contend for the title in America East.

The highlight of the many contests came when one student nailed a half-court shot to win two round-trip tickets to the Caribbean. The shot took one bounce, almost straight up, then went in.

One of the early events was a game between a team of faculty and staff and a team of Student Government Association representatives. The faculty and staff won the game, with president Richard Freeland making a brief appearance on the bench. But the moment that will stand out for some came early in the game, when head coach Ron Everhart missed a layup. The players and assistants all took note. (When I asked Ron later if he would be leading the layup drills at the first practice, he said for every shot he missed, he’ll be doing a running drill with them.)

When the clock struck midnight, out came the players for both the men’s and women’s teams. Everhart told those who stuck around that the Huskies could have the best home court advantage in the nation if they get the kind of support they got on this night. He certainly knows this team has a lot of potential.

The players then treated the fans with a few contests of their own. The three-point shootout, featuring a man vs. a woman in each matchup, had a great finish. In the final, Javorie Wilson looked to have it wrapped up, as Mary-Eileen Gallagher needed to make every shot in the final rack just to force a tie – and she made all of them! In the tie-breaker, it wasn’t close as Wilson won.

After that, teams of one man and one woman were put together for the two-ball shoot. In the first round, super sophomore Jose Juan Barea and women’s senior Joi Jefferson shot the lights out en route to scoring 43 points in the one minute they had. But they ran out of gas in the final, as senior guard Lateef Melvin and women’s senior Michelle Decerbo won easily.

Before both teams did a seven-minute intrasquad scrimmage, Bobby Kelly won the slam dunk contest in a battle of freshmen, winning over highly-touted combo forward Bennett Davis. The Huskies then wasted little time taking to the practice floor, as they held their first official practice at 1 AM, not long after Midnight Madness came to a close and fans cleared the court.

It’s the start of an exciting season of college basketball, and with the Huskies having the potential to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years, they may well be back with a vengeance after all.


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