Tonight, shortly after 9 p.m., when the McDonough lights dim and player introductions begin, the changing of the guards will be complete.

When the men’s basketball team storms the court for this first time later this evening, there will be no Jonathan Wallace or Roy Hibbert or Tyler Crawford, none of the heralded class of 2008 that had become synonymous with John Thompson III.

But don’t expect that to put a damper on the fun.

“It’s a new season, and I think everybody around here is anticipating a new beginning,” sophomore guard Chris Wright said. “It’s gonna be exciting.”

A year ago this time, Jerry Rice grooved to “Soulja Boy,” Jeff Green’s Sonics jersey was unveiled on the McDonough wall, and the then-No. 1 recruit in the nation, Greg Monroe, was so impressed that he committed to Georgetown the very next day.

Fans can expect much of the same tonight. While Rice’s whereabouts are unknown, an Indiana Pacers No. 55 jersey belonging to Roy Hibbert will take its place on the south side of the gymnasium. And, according to Rivals.com, several of the nation’s top recruits from the classes of 2010 and 2011 – not to mention four prep players who have already verbally committed to Georgetown – will be in attendance.

Doors to the gym will open at 8:30 p.m., said Mex Carey, sports information director, and the dance team will perform at 9 p.m. Shooting contests will commence at 9:20 p.m., followed by the women’s team intro at 9:50 p.m. and the men’s introduction at 10:15 p.m. ESPNU will broadcast the event with Bill Rafftery and Lou Canellis providing commentary.

While coaches have been able to work out players one-on-one since the start of classes, Midnight Madness signals the first time the team and coaches can officially practice en masse.

At men’s basketball media day on Tuesday, Thompson’s players seemed nearly as excited as their classmates for the onset of the season.

“I think it gets the jitters out,” senior guard Jessie Sapp said. “It’s fun. This is our family, Georgetown is our family, the community is our family – so to be able to have the party with your family before the season starts, before you get down to business, it’s a good thing.”

Added Thompson: “It’s great for school spirit. . It’s just a fun night to build enthusiasm and get ready for hopefully some more fun times at Verizon Center.”

Check TheHoyaParanoiathroughout tomorrow evening for LIVE updates from McDonough Gymnasium.

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