Memphis Madness a success

Famed hip-hop artist Rick Ross, who was scheduled to headline the event, had a pair of seizures — and emergency landings — en route to Memphis. He was hospitalized in Birmingham, Ala., around 6:30 p.m and was unfit to perform.

If it was Madness Memphis fans wanted, they got a healthy dose Friday night at a packed FedExForum.

Famed hip-hop artist Rick Ross, who was scheduled to headline the event, had a pair of seizures — and emergency landings — en route to Memphis. He was hospitalized in Birmingham, Ala., around 6:30 p.m and was unfit to perform.

U of M coach Josh Pastner improvised, however, and was able to book Memphis native Yo Gotti, who performed the last two Madness events, as a replacement.

"Everything was AOA today — adapt, overcome and achieve," Pastner said. "That's kind of how it was today and that's what we had to do. You've got to give everyone credit — the staff, the university administration, and the fans."

As expected, fans turned out in droves for the free event. Fans began lining up outside FedExForum as early as 8 a.m.

"If you go on Twitter, you can just tell. It brings the whole city back up," junior forward Ferrakohn Hall said. "You can feel that emotion. Everybody loves Memphis basketball, and I feel like today was one of those good-feeling days, like one of the best days in summertime. It was crazy."

The event featured the usual 3-point shootout, of which Antonio Barton was the victor, and a dunk contest that junior forward D.J. Stephens took home.

NBA players Zach Randolph, Andre Iguodola, Elliot Williams, and Thaddeus Young were selected as judges for the dunk contest along with former NBA All-Star and Memphis native Penny Hardaway.

"How do you not want to go to Memphis? That's my thing," Pastner said. "If I was a recruit, and I saw what I saw tonight, with the star-studded judges and a Plan B (of a performer) in Gotti? How can you not want to come to Memphis?"

After the dunk contest, Yo Gotti performed several songs. The night was concluded by a 10-minute scrimmage.

"From the time I got on the bus to the time it ended, it was so exciting," said freshman forward Adonis Thomas. "It was a great experience for me as a freshman. Everybody's just supporting me here. It was a packed house, as usual."

It was also a much-needed night for the U of M, which has to this point offered only a mostly noncompetitive football team. The Tigers return their biggest contributors from last season and are expected to be a preseason Top 15 team.

"The town wants to be a part of something to get excited about and a winning tradition," sophomore guard Will Barton said. "When we come out and put on a show with all our expectations, they really get excited. The town needs that right now. It's all on us right now."


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