The lights dimmed, the crowd buzzed in anticipation, and a big, red, Syracuse Firetruck crept onto the Carrier Dome floor carrying the 2009-10 edition of the Syracuse University women's basketball team. A crowd of 10,156 rose to its feet and welcomed birthday boy Quentin Hillsman and his roster to Jim Boeheim Court.
Boeheim himself began his 34th campaign on the Orange men's bench by driving a Syracuse Police cruiser into the arena, dressed in near-full law enforcement getup. His entire depth chart had entered the floor ahead of him, one-by-one, riding on the backs of motorcycles.
Friday was a night of grand entrances at Syracuse University's Midnight Madness, the tip-off of the men's and women's basketball seasons. Beyond that, there wasn't much to write home about.
Nobody expected the quality of play to be spectacular given the fact that this was the first day that official practices could be held. But the lack of effort was enough to make an amateur blogger try ardently to get a video feed of the Yankees game on his BlackBerry (I failed).
The women's side of the action was decent. They began the night with a short scrimmage that revealed a team with some talent, hungry to get back to the NCAA tournament after an appearance in the 2009 women's NIT. Then the men took center stage.
Not only was the quality of play not spectacular, it was horrific. Freshman Brandon Triche hit a nifty pull-up three-pointer early in the men's scrimmage, but it was all tomfoolery from that point on.
Defense was optional over the next 10 minutes as the crowd was exposed to multiple failed alley-oop attempts, several uncontested dunks and layups, and a handful of errant passes. All the while, the arena speakers provided the best in today's hip-hop and R&B music. The whole night had the feel of a poor man's NBA All-Star Weekend.
Thankfully, the majority of those who attended the event were easily amused. Every missed alley-oop drew a collective "ohhhh" from the crowd while the successful ones brought them to their feet. After a three-point shootout and slam dunk contest, the night came to a close and the fans applauded their approval.
But on a side note, Brandon Triche is being counted upon to replace now-Minnesota Timberwolves guard Johhny Flynn in the Syracuse back court. Brandon Triche also suffered a severe knee injury not long ago which robbed him of nearly a full season at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. That said, why the hell was Brandon Triche competing in the dunk contest? Without any sort of knee brace, no less!
Thankfully, he left the hardwood without any sort of hitch in his giddy-up. The Post-Standard did a nice job of making the event appear joyous in the video they posted to Syracuse.com. Take a look:
|Syracuse Basketball Midnight Madness 2009|
Photo: Syracuse.com's Nicholas Lisi