Tide prepares for Midnight Madness

TUSCALOOSA - Basketball fans will get their first glimpse of one of the most talented University of Alabama basketball teams in years Friday night, October 12, when the Crimson Tide hosts its second annual late night fan jam "Mark's Madness."

Doors to Coleman Coliseum open at 10:30 for the free event. A special "Feel the Madness" limited edition poster, hand numbered one to one thousand, will be given out to the first 1,000 fans that walk through the doors. Prizes will also be given out that night to some lucky fans.

Shooting guard/small forward Rod Grizzard led the SEC in scoring for virtually all of last season. (AllSport)

Alabama's players and coaching staff, including Tide head coach Mark Gottfried and former NBA star T.R. Dunn, will sign autographs. Each Tide player is pictured on the limited edition poster so fans can collect all 12 players' autographs. Several Tide teams, including Rick Moody and the Bama women's basketball team, will be on hand to sign autographs and celebrate the start of the 2000-01 season.

That night is also the night University of Alabama students can sign up to join "Mark's Madness." The group was voted the University's best new student organization last year and is Alabama's largest student organization with 650 members. The membership drive takes place that night. A block section with some of the best and closest to the action seats in the house go to the "Mark Madness" members. For $10 a University of Alabama student (with an ACT card) can join the club and get a reserved seat at all 16 of the Tide's home games.

The first person in line Friday night gets the best seat-front row, seat one, and the seats are reserved row by row in the order of those standing in line. In addition to covering the cost of the season tickets and reserved seat, the $10 membership fee also includes a "Mark's Madness" tee-shirt, required clothing for members seated in that club's cheering section.

Two of the nation's more sought-after recruits will be among those new faces debuting for the Tide when it hits the floor for the first official practice at midnight Friday night. McDonald's All-American Maurice "Mo" Williams, a quick guard out of Jackson, Mississippi, averaged 26.9 points, 9.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds his senior season at Murrah High School. The Sporting News ranked him among the Top 15 national recruits and updates on his play were regular features in basketball publications such as Slam magazine.

Junior Erwin Dudley is considered one of the top power forwards in the country. (AllSport)

Freshman Earnest Shelton also makes his Tide debut. The 6-foot-2 guard out of Memphis' White Station High School averaged 27 points and 5.0 rebounds last year and has been the Tennessee state high school tournament's MVP.

They'll join an all-star cast that includes Alabama's returning starting five, All-Southeastern Conference forward Erwin Dudley and guard Rod Grizzard as well as guards Terrance Meade and Travis Stinnett and center Kenny Walker. That quintet, all juniors this season, was the youngest starting lineup in the Top 25 last season. Alabama was ranked in the Top 25 for 14 straight weeks.

Dudley, now up to 260 pounds of pure muscle, emerged as not only the SEC rebounding champion in 2001 and ranked 10th in the league in scoring, but he is the only player in the SEC who averaged in double digits in both scoring (14.4) and rebounding (10.0) last season. Grizzard led the SEC scoring all season, up until the final week when he was nudged out by three-tenths of a point. LSU's Ronald Dupree averaged 17.3 points a game in 29 games to lead the league. Grizzard finished second in scoring as a sophomore with his 17.0 points a game average for 36 games.

The 2001 team set school records in attendance and home wins and its 25-11 record ranked fourth among Alabama's all-time single season wins.

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