A red curtain draped behind a super-sized crystal ball replaced one end of the court at a semi-filled Xfinity Center for Maryland's tipoff of the basketball season.
Magician J.P. Wilson gave the crowd some preliminary "oohs" and "ahhs," foreshadowing the reactions of Terps fans watching their pre-season Big Ten favorite men's and women's basketball teams throughout the winter months in College Park. Wilson turned red, black and gold scarves into a Maryland flag and his assistant disappeared in small boxes, only to emerge for the final time wearing a Terps jersey.
Following the magic theme, none other than Walt "The Wizard" Williams, the former No. 7 pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 1992 NBA draft and a four-year Terp, dressed in a wizard hat, announced the lineups.
Videos displayed on the arena's wide video board brought a well-needed energy boost to the arena, as clips of Brenda Frese riling up her team and footage from last season's season filled the screen. Players stepped onto the floor entering from either side of the enormous blow-up crystal ball.
The men's team followed up with this hype video.
The prize of Maryland's 2015 recruiting class, five-star recruit Diamond Stone, started it off for the Terps, coming out with a bright red Under Armour headband. Also in bright colors to contrast his bright gold uniform, Rasheed Sulaimon came out in high-red socks to pledge his allegiance to Maryland after transferring from Mid-Atlantic rival Duke. Depending on height, players either dunked or laid up shots after their names were called, and Damonte Dodd easily won the dunk-off as the near 7-footer baby cradled his way to the rim to the tune of his intro music: Taylor Swift's Bad Blood.
Damonte "The Doddfather" Dodd pic.twitter.com/x0DwtI9Q8g— Terps Watch (@TerpsWatch) October 17, 2015
Rocking red capes and top hats, the Terps squads came out rolling for their team dances, blowing away anything that went on in last year's Madness. All eyes went to center court, where sophomore Jared Nickens and junior college transfer Jaylen Brantley snapped, shook and owned the stage with comically-exaggerated dance moves until the 28 super-athletes, "Hit the Quan" (a new hip-hop dance trend) in unison.
For the finale, teams showed off what the hype was about.
Five-star freshman Kiah Gillespie looked impressive in the women's short scrimmage. At 6'2, she proved agile, pushing the ball down floor, working in some post moves and had range hitting one from three-point territory. Junior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough also got to the rim with ease, blowing past defenders on multiple occasions.
Robert Carter lead the way in the men's scrimmage. The transfer from Georgia Tech opened the night with a hook shot over Damonte Dodd, followed by a mid-range jumper. Diamond Stone also got his first public-viewed points with a double-clutch left-handed hook over 7'1 big Michal Cekovsky. Big Ten preseason player of the year Melo Trimble had six points including a layup made with contact, which sent him to the free-throw line and, of course, he hit a three-point shot from the wing.
After the event, men's coach Mark Turgeon talked about his team still building chemistry with one another.
"We didn't have the same summer that we had the year before with Melo away, Diamond was away, Rasheed was away, so we're still building chemistry," he said.
Turgeon added that the team hadn't put in an out-of-bounds play yet. Still, the preseason No. 3 team in the country should have no problem getting things in line before its exhibition game Nov. 6 against Southern New Hampshire State.