Michigan Madness was held last Friday to help kick off the start of basketball practice and to help get fans ready for the upcoming season. This was the first time that there has been a “basketball season-opening event” at Michigan since 1996, according to the Michigan Daily, and hopefully this is just the first of many more to come. There was a decent crowd of around 3,500 people in attendance for the event, and it would have been bigger had it not been fall break at U-M. Either way, I’m sure that as time goes by, this will become a bigger and bigger event that every Michigan basketball fan looks forward to.
After having a BBQ for students that included some great food, the festivities moved inside Crisler Arena for the Greek Shootout. It was a comical event for the students in the crowd, as most players weren’t very good, but more than anything it was an event to kill some time before the teams were announced. The best part was getting to see David Merritt again, as he hosted this particular event. (He and C.J. Lee sat courtside for the rest of the night.)
Right around 9 p.m. is when the lights dimmed and the team introductions began. One player from the men’s team and one player from the women’s team were introduced together, and they came down to the floor from the crowd. The most memorable moment from the team intros happened when Stu Douglass and Courtney Boylan made their way to the court. Those two are dating, and the person in charge of the music was aware of that, changing their entrance music to the wedding song just as they hit the floor. It got a big laugh from the crowd and their teammates, though that probably wasn’t quite as funny as watching the coaches dance when they were introduced. Some of the coaches were really getting into it and dancing quite well, such as Jerry Dunn. For others it was more awkward than anything, like with Kevin Borseth, but it was all in good fun. John Beilein came out last and ran around the court, pumping up the crowd and dancing a little bit himself.
After each of the coaches spoke to the crowd, the skills competition took place. Each group in the competition was made up of a member from the men’s and women’s teams and a fan from the Maize Rage. Each member had to dribble two basketballs from a baseline to near half court and pass one of them away, and then came the tricky part for almost everybody who participated in the competition. The challenge was to bounce a ball through a rim that was propped up on a chair, and nearly everybody had trouble doing that. It was quite funny to watch the actual basketball players struggle with it. After they finally got the ball through the rim, the end of the competition was a bit easier, as the course finished with a layup, dribbling through some cones, passing the ball off of a pitch-back type of thing, and then doing another layup. In the end, Blake McLimans’ team won the competition, edging out Ben Cronin’s team by one second.
The next event was the three-point contest. I thought it would be like the usual three-point contests where you shoot a rack of five balls at five different stations, but it ended up being a team competition. One member of the men’s and women’s teams competed together and the contest was to see who could make a shot at the most stations in a minute. The stations were the same five as a usual three-point contest, and the two players rotated on each shot. To move on to the next station, someone had to make a shot. For this event, there was a tie for first between Anthony Wright/Dayeesha Hollins and Stu Douglass/Courtney Boylan with one pair remaining. Manny Harris and Carmen Reynolds needed to make 11 shots to win the event, and just as time expired, Reynolds hit their 11th three-pointer to move into first place.
The most anticipated event of the night — the dunk contest — was up next. Darius Morris got things started by throwing the ball off the shot clock, catching it, and dunking it, good for a score of 39 out of 40. Zack Novak got the same score by throwing the ball up in the air, catching it, and doing a windmill dunk. Laval Lucas-Perry and DeShawn Sims were the other two competitors, but it was Morris and Novak who were headed to the finals. It looked like Morris had the event wrapped up after he caught a pass from Matt Vogrich, who was 10 or so rows up in the crowd, and dunked it for a perfect score. Novak had other ideas, though, and he made the crowd explode by tossing the ball to himself on the baseline and doing a perfect through-the-legs dunk. It was a given that he got a perfect score, as the four judges from the women’s team threw all of the score cards into the air and went crazy with the rest of the people who saw Novak pull off that dunk. Although Novak technically tied Darius Morris with a score of 40, John Beilein declared Novak the winner for obvious reasons.
Following a short break, each team finished off the night with an 8-minute scrimmage. There isn’t much to say about the scrimmages, but it was nice to see them play some actual basketball at the end of the night. Afterward, the teams gathered at center court and sang The Victors with the crowd to close out the first ever Michigan Madness. It was an entertaining event for sure, and I can’t wait for it to become even bigger in the future.
For more on Michigan Madness check out: