Maryland men’s basketball held its now-annual tradition of the Midnight Mile. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Midnight Mile originally introduced by head coach Lefty Driesell.
Early Thursday morning over 1,000 students met at the Kehoe Track and Field Complex to take part in the event, showing up in record numbers.
“I recruited my players saying like, people love basketball here, we got a great fan base, and this is for a lot of guys, this is the first time seeing it,” head coach Mark Turgeon said with a smile. “At midnight, to have 1,500 kids show up for free pizza— it’s pretty cool. So, I think it’ll energize my guys to even work harder, even though they’ve worked really hard already.”
For the returning players, this experience was a familiar one and it was missed after the tradition didn’t take place ahead of the 2020-21 season due to coronavirus protocols. For players like junior forward Donta Scott, junior guard Hakim Hart and senior guard Eric Ayala, the last time they were around the fan base was when they secured the Big Ten title in March 2020.
“I just remember everybody being on the court after and a lot of celebration, a lot of smiles, and I’m just excited to be out here,” Ayala said. “You know, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.”
Although the scene was familiar to some, Maryland men’s basketball benefited this offseason from the transfer portal and for one of their newest additions, Fatts Russell, this was his first time around the Maryland fan base.
However, for returning and new players alike, the event sparked more excitement for the highly-anticipated 2021-22 season when the Terps are coming in as the No. 21 team in the AP poll.
“Just to be able to see everybody and to see all our fans out, it was good. Just meeting everybody, taking pictures,” Russell said.
“[I’m] very excited,” the transfer guard from the University of Rhode Island added. “Just looking forward to the next couple of weeks getting prepared for a season.”
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