strongIan Steele, Beacon Correspondent/strong
Emerson basketball has already seen many changes, even though they’re in the offseason.
With a new men’s basketball coach, and half of the women’s basketball team’s players being freshmen, there are many new faces occupying the lower levels of Piano Row.
So one more change couldn’t hurt, right?
When the clock strikes midnight on Oct. 15, the first official day National Collegiate Athletic Assocation (NCAA) basketball teams can begin practicing, men’s and women’s basketball will take the court in the program’s first ever Midnight Madness kickoff event.
The event will begin at 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the Bobby Brown and Plofker Gym and will be hosted by the Athletic Department and the Office of Housing and Residential Life. David Haden, the housing director said in an email that the event would consist of several games and prizes intended to show the department’s appreciation for the student body, in addition to displaying the basketball teams’ skills on the court.
For men’s head coach Jim O’Brien, Midnight Madness presents him with his return to the court, having not coached since 2004 at Ohio State University.
“This will be the first time I’m actually going to be on the court with the guys. This has been a long time coming for me,” O’Brien said.
The event also marks an opportunity to unite the school through athletics, which women’s basketball head coach Bill Gould said is common at other schools.
“We’re trying to reach out to those here who like sports a little bit and are a little unaware of the Emerson sports scene,” said Gould, who had assistant coaching stints at Stonehill College and Boston College. “A lot of people aren’t even aware that there’s a basketball game going on in their dorm building, and it’s those people we’re trying to reach.”
As for players, like Amy Sherman, a junior point guard on the women’s team, it is their first chance to set foot on the court with their entire team in 2011.
“We’ve been playing and whatnot, but this is where it really gets going, and a month later we have our first game,” Sherman said. “It’s important to go whether you’re an athlete or a fan of sports. This is an opportunity for the Emerson community to come together just like we would if we were to go to a show or something like that. It’s important to show the Emerson community our school spirit, and this is a good way to show it.”
The event will feature senior Terry Stackhouse as Master of Ceremonies, who, when he’s not emceeing, is a captain of the men’s cross-country team. The night will also include DJ Charlie B, also known as junior Charles William.
While O’Brien brings a wealth of coaching experience to Emerson basketball, he also brings the experience of participating in Midnight Madness events, and has assisted in the planning of this year’s itinerary in meetings.
In one of those meetings, O’Brien brought up the idea of a cash game, where students run blindfolded into a pile of bills, and whatever the student collects he or she gets to keep. When asked what they would do if they won the money, Sherman and men’s guard Bilali Kalilou-Mack both knew what they would do.
“I’d pay my rent, and then go to City Sports and get some new shoes,” Sherman said.
Kalilou-Mack though, had more of a team approach.
“I’d buy some gear for my team. We’re all wearing last year’s stuff. Then, I’d buy a big sign that says ‘Lion’s Den’ and start a student section for the game. After that, if I had anything left over, I’d get some Pad Thai.”
emSteele can be reached at email@example.com./em