Basketball fans will get a sneak preview of excitement to come on the hardwood here as Mark Gottfried has announced that the University of Alabama will celebrate the official opening of basketball practice at midnight on Friday night, October 12. Doors to Coleman Coliseum will open at 10:30 p.m. that night and admission is free. Alabama's players will sign autographs at 11 p.m.
Last season's midnight event drew thousands to Coleman Coliseum for late-night fun, and this year's event will also be worth staying up for. University of Alabama students will be able to sign up for "Mark's Madness" that night. Members of that organization pay $10 for a season pass to Alabama's 19 home games. The Mark's Madness members get the best student seats in the house as the block seating includes floor level seats. For the $10 membership fee, Alabama students get a reserved seat for every home game and a Mark's Madness tee-shirt. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and will go in order of those in line. Mark's Madness has quickly become recognized as one of the best basketball student support groups in the country, signing up 700 members in its first season last year.
Two Alabama students will win DVD players and two more students will win a free semester of textbooks, valued at $150. Radio station WVUA will do a live remote from the Coliseum.
There will be a limited edition team poster given out that fans can get Alabama's players and coaches to autograph. And several of the Crimson Tide's teams will be introduced on the court and will be accessible to fans for autographs.
Rick Moody and his Crimson Tide women's basketball team will take the spotlight just prior to the midnight hour. And, at the strike of midnight the Alabama men's team will run on the floor, performing dunk line drills and a scrimmage so fans can get a preview of great things to come from a team that won 25 games and produced two All-SEC players in Rod Grizzard and Erwin Dudley, both top ten scorers in the SEC.
"We did this for the first time last year, and it was a fun event for us and for the fans," said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried whose team set a school record with 17 home wins last season. "I know our players are excited about starting practice and will be ready to go. This is a great way to tip off the whole year. We set some records last year with our attendance and had huge student turnouts. So I know our students especially will want to come early and get their reserved seats and maybe win some prizes and play a big part in what we hope will be an exciting season of Alabama basketball."
This opening session of practice will end around 12:30 a.m.