Madness is Back

Senior+guard+Louis+Dabney+dribbles+past+Wake+Forest+opponent+in+the+Nov.+17+2014+face+off+in+Devlin+Fieldhouse.+Dabney+scored+17+points+in+the+71-49+loss.%C2%A0

Senior guard Louis Dabney dribbles past Wake Forest opponent in the Nov. 17 2014 face off in Devlin Fieldhouse. Dabney scored 17 points in the 71-49 loss. 

Mackenna Barker, Online Sports Editor

Geared toward getting the student body excited and garnering support for their seasons, Tulane men’s and women’s basketball will host Midnight Madness, opening its first official practice of the season to the public. At 10 p.m. Thursday night they will take to Devlin Fieldhouse to kick off their 2015-16 season campaigns. 

“I think it really sets a tone for the season when the students come out and support us early in the year,” women’s head coach Lisa Stockton said. “For the students, I think they can see what we’re really about and get to know our players. That’s what makes college athletics fun, is getting to know the athletes.”

The event is free and the doors open at 9:30 p.m. Thursday night for students and the public alike. Attendees will be greeted with free pizza, $1 drinks and open concessions.

The event begins with Stockton and men’s head coach Ed Conroy talking briefly about their teams, followed by player introductions. After, there will be several competitions between students and players.

The Shooting Star competition pits four teams of three against each other, each team consisting of one men’s player, one women’s and one student. When students enter the arena, they will be given one of four different colors of raffle tickets, each corresponding with one of the teams. Whatever team color wins the event, those students with the winning colored ticket will get a prize. 

Students are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as well in order to take part in a costume competition at 10:30 p.m., followed by a “big prize” raffle.

Between the players, there will be a three-point shooting competition and a dunking competition to highlight the night.

“I’m real excited for the dunk contest,” men’s senior guard Louis Dabney said. “We’ve got a lot of high flyers and I’m interested to see what they’ve got in the bag.”

This Midnight Madness marks the first one Tulane has hosted in several years, and the teams are looking forward to the event and the opportunity to connect with the student body on a more personal level.  

“I’m really looking forward to our guys having fun and interacting with the students,” Conroy said. “Hopefully our guys get a chance to really connect with our student body.”

The teams continue to place emphasis on how much they value the student body and want them to have a stellar fan experience.

“[Fan support/student support] is very important; it’s very crucial because if your students aren’t into the games, how are you going to get the community excited?” women’s senior center Chinwe Duru said. “You need to get your students to get into the games so that your community can get into the games. With that support, you get greater wins, you get better recognition, you get more coverage and you get people talking … Fans are always important to the game. Without fans, what’s a team?”

Women’s junior guard Leslie Vorpahl attests to the atmosphere impacting the team.

“Teams thrive off of loud, encouraging fans … when the band comes I know it’s always just a lot more live,” Vorpahl said. “The more the student section develops throughout the season, it’ll really help us in the games.”

Dabney, who’s been an instrumental player in the men’s program for four years, recalled a time when student support made the difference between a win and a loss.

“I remember my sophomore year against Loyola Chicago, we were down like 20 at half and just because the crowd was into the game, it just built our confidence and energy level and we ended up coming back 20 down and winning by like five,” Dabney said. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams open their season with an exhibition game against Loyola New Orleans Nov. 5 in Devlin Fieldhouse. The women take the court at 5:30 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m.

“Just come out there and see for yourselves,” men’s senior forward Jernard Jarreau said. “Come out there and support us and we won’t let you down. This is going to be fun.”