First off, the good news. If you want to go to the annual college basketball tip-off Maryland Madness this year, it'll be pretty easy: you don't need tickets, and seating is first-come, first-served. That means that if you get to Comcast early enough, you can just walk in and grab a (relative) front-row seat for the Friday, October 15 event, which will probably start around 8:00. As always, there will be pre-practice festivities for both men's and women's basketball, plus two scrimmages to end the day.
Now: anybody remember Midnight Maryland Madness last year? Remember how Gary Williams entered? Remember all the cool stuff the players did in their intros?
No? Oh, that's because it wasn't cool. Gary Williams walked in...on his feet. The players were introduced...boringly. There were no fires, no Lamborghinis with a semi-funny skit, no armored trucks, no funny dances, no F1 cars, no rappers. It was, in a word, basic. You know what the players did? They stood in a line as their names were called.
It was boring. Maryland Madness isn't supposed to be boring. Maryland invented this. The entire idea is to get the student body and fanbase rocking about the season; it's supposed to be an event. When it isn't, it's a failure.
There were reasons it was below-average last year, mostly budgetary. But with an ultra-successful year behind them and a new, supposedly-supportive AD and excitement reaching a new crest, you'd think that this Maryland Madness would be something special, or at least a little more interesting. Now the question arises, what exactly does Maryland do to fix it?
Big Names - This is big only to students, younger fans, and recruits, so the older/wiser may not get it but would have to suffer through it anyway. Kentucky brought Drake to their Midnight Madness. Why not bring Wale to Maryland's? The DC rap sensation, who's a big, up-and-coming name in the rap game, grew up in PG County and is a Maryland fan. There's no reason not to have him at Maryland Madness, and I've been calling for it for almost two years now. Hey, why not accompany him with self-proclaimed Maryland fan Asher Roth? Getting a mini-concert to rile up the fanbase, recruits, and players would be pretty sweet.
Fix the Gary Intro - Seriously, walking? Walking? That's it? You don't even dim the lights? I don't know what the vehicle should be, but walking isn't my idea of an awesome intro. And if you're not going to make the intro a big deal, don't announce it like it's a big deal. That was one of the biggest problems with last year.
Fix the Player Intros, Too - One of the cool/funny/semi-entertaining things in the past were the dances the players did. I'm not saying that Maryland needs to go Kentucky and put players in the rafters - though I wouldn't mind that, either - but just going down the line isn't really "an event" to me. Did they even do the dunks last year? I don't remember that, either, and that seems entirely basic.
Recruits in the Building - A bunch of basketball targets were supposed to be there, most notably Justin Anderson. If I recall correctly, very few came. MM is a big recruiting tool, and Maryland needs to properly utilize it (for the record, recruits can't actually participate, but can attend). Getting Anderson, plus a few other big 2012/13 names (especially Chris Thomas), to attend would be very good indeed.
Hype the Changes - From the jerseys to the newcomers to the new leader, this is a very different team. Hopefully they won't dwell too much on the accomplishments of the past team and instead hype the facts that Jordan Williams is a Wooden candidate and that the freshman class has some real stars on it. It's clearly a new era at Maryland, for better or worse, and that needs to be kept front-and-center.
What's the Surprise? - About a week ago, Gary Williams alluded to a "surprise" on its way at Maryland Madness. I guessed a) Wale or b) the new jerseys. Others guessed that Greivis will show up, and maybe even his jersey will be raised to the rafters, though I really think that should happen at the first home game. If they can make the surprise good, legitimate, and actually surprising, Maryland Madness' ceiling will be pretty high.
Any other thoughts? Anything you'd like to see, anything here you don't want? Ultimately, MM is for you, so what would you want to see?