BASKETBALL | New Hoyas Set to Take Stage
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 00:10
The senior-less Georgetown men’s basketball team may lack on-court veteran leadership, but nobody can accuse the Hoyas of not prioritizing experience off the court — at Midnight Madness, anyway.
Hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh, who was breaking ground as a beatbox pioneer back when Hall-of-Famer Patrick Ewing wore the blue and gray, will headline this year’s basketball kickoff celebration tonight at McDonough Arena.
For the uninitiated: Midnight Madness is a tradition celebrated at many high-profile basketball schools, in which teams hold exhibition practices the night before the first day of formal practices, as sanctioned by the NCAA. Over the years, the late-night practices have evolved into school-sponsored pep rallies, complete with smoke machines, light shows, dunk contests, musical acts and dance performances.
This year’s edition at Georgetown, themed “Kickin’ It Ol’ Skool,” will feature performances from Fresh, Groove Theory, the GU Step Team and GU Jawani, as well as other “surprise appearances,” according to an athletic department press release.
The identities of the “surprises” remain anyone’s guess, but prominent Hoya alumni are always a good bet: Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe and both Patrick Ewing Sr. and Patrick Ewing Jr. showed up last year.
The celebration marks the official beginning of the season for what looks to be another enigmatic Georgetown team. The Hoyas enter practice missing three crucial starters from the previous season — just as they did last year — and will have to rely on major contributions from unproven players once again.
The core of young talent that carried the Blue and Gray to a surprising 24-9 finish last season is back for more, however, and expectations have risen accordingly. Whether this year’s edition can likewise win over critics will largely depend on whether one of last season’s role players can establish himself as a bona fide scoring threat. Sophomore forward Otto Porter and junior point guard Markel Starks are likely candidates, but both have yet to prove they can carry a scoring load.
Tonight’s festivities will also provide most fans with their first look at combo guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and the rest of the freshmen, at least one of whom is likely to see significant minutes this year.
The women’s team, which also kicks off practice tonight, has a dearth of leadership that makes the men’s situation pale in comparison.
While the Hoyas return three seniors, the loss of seven players to graduation, one to transferring and former head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy to Auburn has left a team full of question marks. Star senior guard Sugar Rodgers is the only player left on the roster who played more than 20 minutes per game last season.
Students can pick up wristbands for admission starting at 6:30 p.m., with doors opening 90 minutes later. After the performances, the women’s team will take the court at 9:20 p.m. and the men’s team at 9:45 p.m.