Music…Check! Light show…Check! Fireworks….Check! Jackie Moon and onions….Check? That's right, Pitt men's basketball head coach Jamie Dixon gave his best rendition as Will Ferrell from the movie, Semi-Pro, and he did not disappoint in entertaining the ruckus crowd on Bigelow Boulevard Friday evening.
And the onions part; that was brought to you by the one and only, Bill Raftery. With ESPN in the house, or might I say, on the street, the Pitt basketball program seemed to have done a great job of forgetting last year's mediocre display and brought in a ton of new energy along with one of the most heralded recruits in Pitt history in seven footer, Steven Adams.
Midnight Madness, as it has been labeled over the years, has grown from a celebration of the kickoff of the college basketball season, to a recruiting and entertaining gimmick that brings the lure to a particular program once every year on a Friday evening in October.
Many programs bring in music artists, have festivals beforehand, and in this year's occurrence with the Pitt basketball program, make a moveable basketball floor and place it on the middle of Bigelow Boulevard at the heart of Pitt's campus.
The night started out with the entrance of both the women's and men's basketball squads entering the court by way of a police entourage. After the voice of Pittsburgh basketball, Bill Hillgrove, announced the women's program, he then announced Jamie Dixon. However, Dixon was not in his usual attire and donned a retro Flint Michigan Tropics jersey that Will Ferrell wore during the movie, Semi-Pro. The entire crowd played right along with it and instead of Hillgrove announcing each player the rest of the way, Moon, I mean Dixon, announced his players with comical entries for each player. The entire crowd took a liking to it and the head honcho did a great job of making the crowd laugh and if there were ever any disgruntled feelings from the previous season, Dixon did a great job of gearing the fans towards the upcoming year.
The Pitt staff and PR unit followed the entrances by recreating the three best moments in Pitt basketball history. With wins over West Virginia and Duke mentioned and played out as two of the top three, number one was the ‘Send it in!' dunk by Jerome Lane over Providence defenders. The entire crowd took a liking to it and it was a pretty neat experience having the current Pitt players act it out and then see the play again on the giant TV screen behind one of the baskets. The night was finished off with J.J. Moore winning the dunk competition with two impressive dunks that landed him both ten's on each of his dunks. He then gave the crowd its exclamation point it was looking for on the night when he dunked over seven footer, Steven Adams.
Although, like most programs that take part in a Midnight Madness festivity, Pitt did not have any sort of scrimmage (that will be for Sunday afternoon). Yet, the entire night was a giant success for everyone involved.
Steven Adams is a rock star. Plain and simple. Not only does he have the talent that will make him one day an NBA lottery pick, but he also has the personality that makes everyone gravitate towards him. Fellow newcomer, Trey Zeigler, did not disappoint in the dunk contest. Moore won, but Zeigler's athleticism and fluidity off of his feet is something that will be welcomed to the Pitt forefront this season and might be an even better fit for ACC play compared to the Big East.
Lastly, Malcolm Gilbert really looked good in his jersey Friday evening. Dixon harped on the team really hitting the weights and running a lot during the preseason this year and it seems as if Gilbert has transformed his body and could possibly join Adams as a twin towers experiment throughout the season.
In all, it was a great evening and Pitt basketball seems to be back on the right foot heading into the 2012 campaign.