Madness to the X-treme

It's no longer called Midnight Madness with the NCAA now allowing the official start of men's & women's basketball practice to begin earlier in the evening. At the DePaul Athletic Center in Chicago on Friday night it was X-treme Madness.

The party began with the beating of drums to welcome in the new season for the Blue Demons. Many DePaul basketball alumni came back to see this year's version of the DePaul team. At the Athletic Center were former Blue Demons Rashon Burno and Lamar Butler. Drake Diener, a star of last year's squad, was seen sporting a new beard. Even new Army head coach Maggie Dixon stuck around to bid farewell to her former team.

Many Illinois basketball prospects were in the stands watching the festivities. On hand were Timothy Christian big man Josh Crittle, Hales Franciscan sophomore guard Matthew Humphrey, Washington sophomore point guard DeAndre Liggins, Hales senior guard Marcus Relphorde, and JD Darnall High (Geneseo, IL) sophomore Tyler Storm.

Also expected to be in attendance were Lincoln Park sophomore point guard Jeremy Montgomery, Lincoln Park junior guard Jonathan Montgomery, Proviso East junior point guard Jacob Pullen, and Lincoln Park junior guard Michael Thompson.

Women's basketball coach Doug Bruno was introduced by master of ceremonies Marty Murphy. With four starters returning from last year's team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, expectations are high for this year's DePaul women's team. Bruno introduced his coaching staff including new hire and former Blue Demon Sarah Kustok. Doug spoke of the challenge that the men's and women's teams face stepping up to Big East conference play and the help they will need from the students. " I'd like to challenge our student body to be the most exciting, most involved, most energized student body in the Big East," said Bruno.

DePaul's Coach Wainwright was greeted by the crowd with chants of "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!" Wainwright spoke of how honored he is to be in Chicago, to be representing DePaul, and how proud he is of the team. "We're going to do everything we can to make you really proud of us," said Jerry. "We belong in the Big East! They are lucky to have us. We are going to show everybody in college basketball that we can play at that level."

After the 2005-06 men's and women's hoops teams were introduced, a game of Simon Sez was played. Entertainer Steve Max of made sure everyone had a fun time. Everyone got in the act from the basketball players to Coach Gary DeCesare's children.

Women's sharpshooting guard Allie Quigley ran away with the three point shooting contest over Draelon Burns.

The men's and women's teams cut loose with a few dance routines which included Sammy Mejia lipsynching for the house.

The slam dunk contest was won by transfer forward Karron Clarke over freshman Rashad Woods. Clarke displayed some tremendous athleticism as he came away with the title.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and had fun as the night wrapped up around 10 p.m. It was a night for fun and games.

A good night's rest was needed. On Saturday at 7 a.m. it was back to business as the men's team took the court for the first of two weekend practices. They have their work cut out for them as the season opener looms in just five weeks.

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