KnightTime Madness brings back memories

KnightTime+Madness+brings+back+memories

The feeling would almost be like the one I used to get on Christmas Eve.

There was so much to look forward to — the people, the lights, the smell of popcorn and basketballs swishing through the hoop.

I’m not talking about Dec. 25; I’m talking about, of course, what used to be Gannon’s Midnight Madness.

It used to be depressing leaving the Hammermill Center in February – or hopefully late March — after Gannon’s final home game, knowing it would be a long eight months until the Gannon faithful would fill the seats of the “Audi” for the Gary Miller Classic.

Traditionally, Midnight Madness fell on the eve of the NCAA’s first day of practice.

Walking into the Hammermill Center in late October for the event was like seeing the family get back together for the holidays. It was a chance to see the old faces from the crowd and new faces on the Gannon sideline.

It was the fans’ first look at the team and there was nowhere to go but up. It was a fresh start.

But, unlike Christmas Eve, the big day didn’t come the next morning. We would exit into the darkness on Peach Street wanting more, knowing we would have to wait about six more weeks until the season’s first home game.

Midnight Madness was a tradition. Then it was gone.

The last time the event took place was in 2008 and for unknown reasons it ended, forcing die-hard fans to celebrate the team’s first day of practice by spreading rumors on a blog run by Jim Roddy, a former Gannon basketball walk-on.

But, thanks to former women’s basketball player Candice Hendricks it’s back – for now.

The latest rendition of the event took place Sunday at the Hammermill Center and involved both the men’s and women’s teams.

And even though all of the glitz and glamour the event used to have for me as a kid has faded away, the feeling of a new basketball season still filled me with excitement Sunday, even if it took place three days after the official start of practice.

The women begin the regular-season schedule with a pair of games at West Chester’s Carol Eckman Memorial Tournament, Nov. 14-15.

The men start the 2015-16 campaign with two Division I exhibition games. Nov. 6 Gannon travels to take on Pitt, before turning around and playing George Washington University a  day later.

Gannon starts PSAC play on Nov. 18 at Clarion.

Kudos to Hendricks for her hard work in putting on an event Gannon fans have been missing for years.

The Gannon Athletic Department should take note of the 250 or so fans who filled the east side plush seats of the Hammermill Center. There is still something that makes Gannon basketball special. Some Division II teams can’t get 250 fans for a game, let alone a preseason rally on a Sunday in the middle of October when the NFL is in full swing.

Hopefully, KnightTime Madness is here to stay.

 

DOMINIC SANSONE

[email protected]