Students and alumni filled the Al McGuire Center to capacity Friday night to ring in the new basketball year after a long summer of anticipation. From the first playing of Ring Out Ahoya by the Marquette band to the men’s scrimmage, the McGuire Center rocked with energy.
The night began with the men’s and women’s soccer teams throwing out free T-shirts to celebrate the completion of new bleachers at Valley Fields this week.
The women’s basketball team took the floor next with freshmen JeTaun Rouse and McKayla Yentz receiving their official introductions to the Marquette faithful. Last out of the tunnel was head coach Terri Mitchell, who’s Gangnam Styling never seems to get old.
Senior Katherine Plouffe scored seven points to lead the Blue team over the white squad 22-16 in the women’s scrimmage.
Then it was time for the men’s team to take the court after the debut of Marquette’s awesome new intro video, which drew a raucous reaction.
Milwaukee natives Deonte Burton, Duane Wilson and Jameel McKay got loud welcomes from the home crowd. Junior Juan Anderson played into an underlying social media theme by taking what appeared to be a Snapchat photo of himself and a few fans in the seats behind him.
Davante Gardner broke out the moves, but it was head coach Buzz Williams who stole the show. As the arena speakers played “Country Roads” Williams strutted his stuff in a tribute to his now infamous dance after a 2012 road win at West Virginia.
Redshirt senior Chris Otule was presented with the first ever Marqeutte Madness Lifetime Achievement award, as the video monitors showcased some great moments of karaoke singing and “The Night before Christmas” readings.
Williams took a few minutes to fully recognize Otule in a brief, but emotional speech. While claiming that out of all his achievements he was most proud to be a husband, Williams said that “professionally, I’m most proud to be known Chris Otule’s coach.”
Redshirt senior Jake Thomas and senior Davante Gardner attempted to unofficially break the world record of 25 three-pointers in a minute. Thomas edged Gardner 22-19 in the competition.
Next came a “battle of the sexes” round in which the team of Anderson, Thomas, Gardner and Williams defeated junior Arlesia Morse, Plouffe, sophomore Brooklyn Pumroy, and a fully uniformed Mitchell 10-3.
Burton electrified the always highly anticipated dunk contest with a sweet between-the-leg jam that brought the entire arena to its feet.
The Blue team, thanks to a nice showing from freshman JaJuan Johnson, won the men’s scrimmage 49-43 in overtime.
This year’s Madness crowd kept the night as exciting as Octobers past, serving as a fitting preview for the thrilling season to come.