The day started with Orange players and coaches fielding questions from reporters during Syracuse’s annual media day at the Carmelo Anthony Center and ended with fans taking selfies with their favorite athletes in the Carrier Dome. In between was a handful of entertainment for fans that came out to be welcomed to this year’s men’s and women's basketball teams for Syracuse’s version of Midnight Madness, Orange Madness.
For first year students or anyone new to the phenomenon that is Syracuse Orange basketball, Orange Madness was just a sprinkling of what to expect in 2014.
The highlight of the night had to be Jim Boeheim’s elaborate entrance into the dome via military escort donning a camouflaged kevlar helmet peaking out of a souped up humvee. Wearing his USA basketball jacket from this past summers FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Hall of Fame coach thanked the military personnel in attendance for their service and then tore off his outer layer revealing his trademark Orange basketball polo, much to the delight of the eager crowd.
Several notable Cuse alumni were in attendance for a legends game including John Wallace, Eric Devendorf, Mookie Jones and of course the legendary Pearl Washington. If it wasn’t their introductions as “alum” that gave it away no one would have known these former Orange players were way past their prime. John Wallace and Terrence Roberts both threw down multiple slams, begging fans to wonder if any of them had just one more year of eligibility left.
The jubilant crowd was then introduced to both the men’s and women's teams with each player coming out to their own walk up music including junior transfer Christian White who was introduced with country music, messing up the flow of the hip hop theme all the other players seemed to follow. Two freshman, Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough who will need to help carry a young Orange team in 2014, received some of the biggest roars from the Carrier Dome crowd. However, none was as big as returning starter Trevor Cooney who will be the go to scorer for Syracuse this year with the likes of Fair, Ennis, and Triche moving on into Syracuse lore.
The men’s team played a 16 minute scrimmage that was more like an NBA All Star game than anything else. The majority of the game, to the fans delight, was played above the rim with everyone partaking in the dunk party including freshman Kaleb Joseph and Trevor Cooney.
The night was capped off with a slam dunk competition between Chris McCullough and B.J. Johnson. McCullough started off with an impressive between the legs throw down, but Johnson ultimately won over the crowd and claimed the top honor concluding yet another Orange Madness in the dome.
For the first time ever fans were able to go behind the stands and take selfies with their favorite players at the “selfie station”. A great way to get to know some of the new and returning players and interact with them, albeit through the spectacle that is a selfie.
With the home opener for both the men’s and women's teams only a few weeks away, Orange Madness was the perfect way to preview this year’s teams in true Syracuse fashion.
The men open up with an exhibition against Carleton on November 2nd at 1p.m. and the women on November 16th at noon against Fordham.