Alumni Hall Steals Show at Madness

Several thousand Providence College basketball fans got their first glimpse of the 2012-2013 team at the annual season-opening edition of Late Night Madness - all taking place at newly refurbished Alumni Hall.

Men's Ice Hockey defeated Sacred Heart, 8-2, on their opening night of the season over in Schneider Arena. The result of the game gave PC Students the perfect adrenaline rush to make their way over from a soon-to-be renovation project, to the finished product that is the new Alumni Hall. While the gymnasium has been remodeled, the tradition that is Late Night Madness was ready to once again strike up the pep band and mark the beginning of another Friar Basketball campaign.

The renovations to Alumni Hall were completed this past week in an effort to beat the countdown for Late Night Madness. Workers and Staff members finished the bleachers and sent their apologies to men's and women's basketball as the sounds of saws and drills and loud bangs carried over the echoes of the coaches commands in practice. The result of the countless hours of labor was the new home of Friar Basketball. And it was time to unveil it to the PC Faithful.

Students filed in through Ruane Atrium and rushed past the Friar Hall of Fame. They grabbed their "Madness T-shirts" and headed for the doorways to Alumni Hall. Then the line came to a dead halt. The eyes of the spectators were all that were moving.

The ceiling actually looked like a ceiling. The stands actually had seats on them. And the seats were not made of wood. There are two video boards on display. There is a sound system that... okay, the sound system needs some work. (Hey, even the new iPhone has some issues…)

The point is this is not your grandfather's Alumni Hall. Heck, it's not even your older sibling's Alumni Hall!

Students were being turned away as the seating capacity (just over 1,500 seats) and the Fire Marshall's capacity (2,443) was reached with 15 minutes to spare before the start of Madness. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. Madness became an exclusive event. One that students and fans need to have the passion and energy to get to early enough to fight for a seat.

The night was filled with slam-dunks, student groups pretending they were on MTV's ABDC, a PCTV video (not as good as PC Glee) and a row of men's basketball recruits taking in the atmosphere. The recruits were apparently enjoying every moment of it. Credit Ed Cooley and Andre LaFleur with the idea of taking the recruits off the end line and bringing them to the middle of the court. They were treated like top donors who pay to be that close to the action on a game-by-game basis. However, this wasn't the first sign that recruits were impressed. At one point during the men's pre-Madness practice one of the recruits said, "This might be one of the nicest gyms I have seen on my visits." That is exactly the response the men's and women's programs need in order to lure top-tier talent to Friartown.

This response was matched by a new Friar. Right before the men's team was introduced to the crowd at Madness, Kris Dunn said "Somebody tell coach we need to play here more often! This is crazy! I love it!"

Maybe the men's team will see a few more games at home. Or maybe they will play every meaningful game at the Dunk. Whatever the case may be one thing is for certain: On this night, Alumni Hall stole the show.

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