Impressions of the ‘Madness’

Every year there are a few key times for collegiate sports: around New Year’s for football, March Madness for basketball and the night before the first day of basketball season, known as Midnight Madness.

USF’s version of Midnight Madness brought about 3,500 people to the Sun Dome Friday.

“The point was getting people excited about USF basketball,” Dave Mincberg, student body vice president, said. “If we get 3,500 students to each game it will have been a great success.”

Mincberg was among those responsible for bringing Midnight Madness back to USF after its two-year hiatus due to its expense. Student Government, the Campus Activity Board and sponsors such as the USF Bookstore raised money for the event which cost, including prizes, between $8,000 to $10,000. Due to extensive fund raising, only $4,500 of the total spending was deducted from the $6 million activities and services budget.

“Any time you have that kind of support from the student body and the community to get everyone excited about the upcoming season, it is very positive,” women’s coach Jose Fernandez said.Some of the prizes awarded were free cups, free food from Burger King, about 100 shirts thrown to the crowd and a scholarship for books. But to some of the fans the shirts and other prizes were feeble attempts to spark excitement.

“I was disappointed. I was looking to get out of the house, show some team spirit, but there was nothing there,” grad student Kenwood Farrington said. “They just threw some t-shirts into the crowd and had little games.”

The event consisted of introductions of the men’s and women’s teams, a slam dunk contest, scrimmage, skits by the players and various contests.

“It went well. I enjoyed it,” USF forward Sonia Cotton said. “I think we put on an excellent show.”

Fifteen volunteers ran the event – mostly from the SG Congress.

“I give all the credit in the world to Mincberg to get the people together for it to happen,” said men’s coach Seth Greenberg. “It was great to see the students out and get excited about what we’re doing. I thought it was terrific.”

Although many are happy, the main barometer for its success will be the amount of support the teams receive at each home game this season.

“Every night needs to be Midnight Madness,” Greenberg said. “Our basketball schedule has to be part of their social calendar.”