The 2016-17 Marquette men’s and women’s basketball seasons officially got started on Friday night with the 2016 edition of Marquette Madness.
It was fine.
It’s pretty much the same event every year. This year had a couple of new tweaks with a live DJ in the building, a VIP student deck on the north end of the Al McGuire Center, and the finals of the student knockout/lightning game, but other than that, it was exactly what you’ve come to expect from the Madness event.
Notable moments and/or highlights:
- Women’s head coach Carolyn Kieger attempting to make a cool entry on those sneakers with the wheels in the heels.... but forgetting that the Time Warner Cable camera has a cable attached to it, rolling over the cable, and biffing all over the McGuire Center floor. Don’t worry, guys, she’s fine.
- Kieger announced that, in alignment with the WBB team motto of “Fly With Us” this year, the student section on the south end of the McGuire Center will be named “The Flight Deck.”
- The women’s intro video, which I did not realize until just now was a custom track from sophomores Natisha Hiedeman and Amani Wilborn.
- The 10 women who started their 10 minutes of scrimmaging were the nine players returning from last season and freshman Isabelle Spingola. Fellow freshmen Altia Anderson and Meghan Mandel saw action during the scrimmage, while freshman Lauren Van Kleunen and redshirt junior Chelsey Gibson did not. It wasn’t a particularly long stretch of play, so I don’t know what, if anything, should be the takeaway from those two not getting on the court.
- The blue team beat the gold team in the women’s scrimmage, 22-21, after having a 16-8 “halftime” lead. The best play of the whole scrimmage was the Anderson buzzer beater at halftime, as she was the ultimate recipient of some flashy passing from Danielle King to Natisha Hiedeman to Anderson for the layup. That might ultimately be the key for the freshmen, who are all 6-foot and taller, to get on the floor: being ready to grab quick dishes from Marquette’s highly skilled and speedy guards for easy layups.
- The brand new 2016 edition of the “Pray” video, using mostly alumni. I feel bad about it, but I don’t recognize the two older gentlemen in the video who aren’t Bo Ellis. Anyone want to give me a hand here? Also: there will be other versions of this coming out as the season goes on, utilizing more alumni.
- The official debut moment for the brand new 2016-17 men’s basketball uniforms, designed for the 100th anniversary of the program by Nike and Jordan Brand. For more on exactly what went into the design of the new kits, check out our article devoted exclusively to that.
- For the men’s introductions, each player had a custom song dropped into the overall music that was playing. I only recognized two tracks: Matt Heldt used John Cena’s entrance music, while Jajuan Johnson came out last to The Rock’s entrance music and carrying a toy replica of what appeared to be the WWE Tag Team Championship belts. No one came out to Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, or Bobby Roode’s music, and I was very sad.
- Holy crap, head coach Steve Wojciechowski lost his damn mind. If you’ve been paying attention to videos that the athletic department releases, or the post-game press conferences, or Steve “The Homer” True’s weekly Marquette basketball radio show, you’ve by now realized that the public persona of Wojo is absolutely nothing like his fire-spitting sideline demeanor or the emotion he showed leaping into Luke Fischer’s arms after the big man drew the foul and made the throws to beat Georgetown last year. But on Friday night, he was jumping up on the scorer’s tables on both sides of the court and enthusiastically taking selfies with the VIP student deck.
- The men’s and women’s teams squared off in a three point contest, with both teams crowning an internal champ before the two champs faced off against each other. Junior transfer Andrew Rowsey came out the victor at the end.
- The men’s team played two six-minute scrimmages. They weren’t really halves of a scrimmage, as some guys switched sides between the two sessions. Nothing particularly stood out to me from the 12 minutes of action. With a heavy veteran returning crew, there wasn’t a lot of space for Katin Reinhardt, Sam Hauser, or Markus Howard to really stand out.
- It may be time to ban dunk contests from Madness. Sandy Cohen was your victor on Friday night, but, uh, that was by default. Sacar Anim and Markus Howard failed to complete a dunk in six attempts, so Cohen completely blew them out of the water with his two makes. Possible improvement: don’t hold the dunk contest after the guys have been playing for 12 minutes. The highlight of the entire contest might have been Luke Fischer berating Steve Novak for being the lone judge that didn’t give Cohen’s second dunk a 10.
Anything interesting jump out at you guys during Madness? I was in the building, so I didn’t see or hear any of the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel broadcast.