Autographs and alumni games are neat little elements of Maryland Madness, but the main event didn't begin this year until the lights went dark, Johnny Holliday started speaking, and the videos started playing.
The athletic department had a video cued up to start at 7:40, narrated by Holliday, the Terps' longtime play-by-play voice, looking back on Cole Field House and Maryland basketball history. Here's a chronology of what followed:
The Terps women's team took the court just before 7:50, first backgrounded by Lady Gaga's "Applause." Redshirt sophomore guard Brene Moseley, who missed last season with an ACL injury, made a formal return to the court before the Terps faithful. The crowd also got an introduction to freshman forward A'Lexus Harrison. (So the Terps actually, in fact, debuted someone named A. Harrison at this year's Madness. Just as we always knew it would be.)
The loudest cheer came for the second-to-last player introduced, senior forward Alyssa Thomas. Essence Townsend, the 6-foot-7 center and a redshirt senior, got the final introduction before Brenda Frese's coaching staff came out.
Then Bonnie Bernstein, a Maryland journalism school graduate, introduced a long line of men's and women's alums (including Tom McMillen, who got a raucous cheer). Bernstein went down the line and called out attendees from years upon years worth of Terps teams that played in Cole, and the entire thing seemed to drag on for a long, long time. There was a lot of cheering, but the student section clearly could have coped with a shorter recognition.
This history is certainly worth talking about, but it was wedged directly between the women's and men's teams' introductions, so the crowd got loud for the women only to mellow out quite a bit before the end of the presentation and the entrance of the men's team (which came just after 8:20, a full half-hour after the women came on).
The place got significantly louder when the men's team entered. Their order of arrival, from first to last: A.J. Metz, Damonte Dodd, Roddy Peters, Connor Lipinski, Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare, Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, Spencer Barks, Varun Ram, Jonathan Graham, Jacob Susskind, Evan Smotrycz, Nick Faust, Dez Wells and John Auslander.
Wells' dunk, a spinning, bounced alley-oop to himself, was the best of the night, coming after he played to the crowd by kissing the red "M" at center court. Faust and Wells had the next-best efforts of the pseudo-dunk competition.
Lefty Driesell, Gary Williams and, finally, Mark Turgeon took the court, each getting a raucous ovation to wrap up Madness' "pregame" celebration, with the school's fight song rolling in the background.