“Happy New Year” sentiments were shared, as the start of basketball season officially began Friday evening. I always know it is the start of another sport season as I never get adequate sleep. None the less, being right in the heart of events like these, definitely add to the perks of the job.
Check out my photo gallery from the event featured on ESPN Front Row: http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2012/10/tweetback-jeter-reaction-gameday-heading-to-the-swamp-irish-rising/!
In the spirit of old-fashioned school pep rallies before the big game, Midnight Madness offers the students a chance to get to know their team, their coaches, and to build momentum going into the beginning of the college basketball season. It’s a chance to show off, to have a little fun, and to encourage students to pack the house come game day. Leading up to a promotional event like this, there is a lot of work to be done in preparation. Photo shoots and green screen video of players are taken and edited for the upcoming season’s press guides and television displays. The sports information department plans for months to make sure Midnight Madness successfully kicks off the 2012-2013 season without a hitch. These events are one live continuous show for which there is usually no dress rehearsal or precedent, which means little room for error, especially for those in the production truck.
Despite the recent rule changes on coaching and practices that allow teams to meet mid-September for two hours a week, Midnight Madness at schools with historic basketball programs like Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. can still make a huge impact on ticket sales, team unity, and community exposure. The excitement and anticipation of the team making their public debut is a feeling that fans can experience whether in person or on television.
Midnight Madness is still very relevant, regardless of the latest changes, especially for those potential underclassmen recruits looking to be a part of history. McDonough Arena, which holds around 2,500 people, was packed with students who had lined up hours before, feasting on burgers and listening to DJ’s hyping the crowd. As we were set to do record an interview with former coach and ESPN men’s college basketball analyst Tim Welsh in front of McDonough Arena, he mentions how exciting this time of year can be, both as fans and coaches/teams. Rowdy fans swarmed around Georgetown star Otto Porter and chants like, “Otto-matic” began. The ballet of coordination between capturing video for later usage along with the live production as the events unfold requires a multitude of factors to be in sync in order to see the seamless presentation viewers enjoy at home.
The on-site Producers have scouted the optimal angles, set up the lighting effects, and arranged interviews well in advance. Satellite relays are established, hundreds of feet of cable are run, cameramen, stage crew, and technicians perform their integral duties to make sure all of the live action gets properly fed to the television production trucks. Once there, the producers conduct the symphony, graphics packages are added to garnish the video footage, and the end result is beamed to millions of viewers. The “Kickin’ it Ol’ Skool” theme featured a special performance by hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh, who was thefeatured performer of the night, playing close to a half-hour set. Team introductions, several dance ensembles and student group performances continued throughout the night as the cameramen were up close and personal during each of these moments, capping off the night with a dunk contest.
Students chanted, “J-T-III “as Head Coach John Thompson III was spotlighted showed off his dancing talents amongst a sea of lighted thundersticks. Thompson talked about feeding off of the energy of the fans, and even for those working the game, the excitement makes for a far better atmosphere for all involved.
In a sense, he is helping to cultivate a home-court advantage for the season, allowing us to come in and capture those moments for the fans across the country ready to root for their team.
Here’s a little Doug E. Fresh interlude to set the mood: