There have been exactly 200 basketball-less nights and days at Marquette. In three more, however, life will be breathed back into campus.
Marquette Madness, the annual celebration commemorating the start of the college basketball season, is not just around the corner — it’s here.
Yet, even though Madness packs the Al McGuire Center every year, it never lives up to the hype. The tension that builds all week crescendos meekly as a half-filled gym sits idly on its hands after the introductions have finished.
Looking at other schools’ Madness events, you’d think our team sucked or something. At Kentucky, people camp out days in advance to snag a ticket for Big Blue Madness. They fill Rupp Arena, their 22,000-seat stadium, year after year and guess what? Nobody leaves early.
Granted, we are not as ravenous a fan-base as Kentucky, and it’s not fair to compare us to a school where basketball is a religion. But Madness can be improved and have the results justify the hype.
Here are five ideas for doing that:
5. Don’t give out t-shirts at the beginning
It happens every year. Lines to enter the Al curl around the 707 building and down Wisconsin Ave. But half the line won’t even step foot in the gym. People simply grab the free t-shirt — or two or three — and go home. This is an insult to true fans everywhere and robs those in the back, who really are fans, of their reward.
The simple solution: don’t give out the t-shirts at the start. Either wait until the end to distribute them, or hand out vouchers redeemable as people file out. This way, there would be a real incentive to stay and be a part of the Madness.
4. Move it to midnight
This would be a risky move. On the one hand, it would alienate the older and younger fans who don’t stay up that late. I understand Madness is not simply for students and night owls. On the other hand, pushing back the start time roughly five hours guarantees a much more — how shall I put it —“well-lubricated” crowd. Marquette students are much more passionate in this state, providing a more energetic and exciting atmosphere.
As a freshman in 2008 I had no idea how big of a deal Madness was. The “Big Three” ran the school and there was a buzz about coach Buzz Williams. The only thing I remember, though, was the spine-tingling introduction video, “Pray.” Watch this now. I still get chills every time. I suggest using the same video, only with the current players. Nothing will ever be as impactful or descriptive as the Pray video. No need to try and top it.
2. Alumni vs. Current players
With the NBA as locked out as ever, it is perfect timing to bring in the old guard to flaunt its stuff. Instead of the usual intra-squad scrimmage, have the alumni play the current players. Who wouldn’t get out of your seat to see Jimmy Butler throw an ally-oop to Wes Matthews? On top of the coolness factor of having so many pros in the gym at one time, there would be players giving it their all. No way Lazar Hayward wants to get embarrassed by a DJO dunk. Admit it. You’re nodding your head right now. This idea would revolutionize Madness.
An alumni versus young guns battle would be nothing without our most famous alumnus. Dwyane Wade must be there. It’s not a pipedream either. On top of showing interest on Twitter, there are a few similarities to the last time Flash came, which was 2007. Marquette was getting new uniforms, he couldn’t take part in training camp, and the Golden Eagles were going to be a ranked team. Well what do you know: New uniforms? Yes. No training camp? Si. Ranked team? Yes sir. Hot dog, we’re three for three. Get on the bandwagon while you still can and tweet #BringWadeToMadness.