Hoops Hysteria, otherwise known as “Midnight Madness” around the country, was held at the Liacouras Center Wed. Oct. 16.
The event included a Philadelphia 76ers open practice, a scrimmage between the Owls’ women’s and men’s basketball teams, dazzling slam dunks from the 76ers mascot “Hip-Hop” and student competitions like three-point shootouts and pick up games from local street ballers.
Performances by the Owls’ cheerleading squads and the 76ers’ dance team were also part of the “hysteria.”
Wednesday night was also designed to kick-off the Wild Cherry ticket sales for students.
The purpose of Hoops Hysteria was to provide a grand time for the players and students, and to start the basketball season on a positive note.
“This was a first-year event,” said Zach Conen, director of advertising, promotions and ticket sales.
“There were different kinks in the event that we will learn from and improve upon.”
The night tipped-off around 5 p.m. when the 76ers hit the court, with everyone on the squad including Allen Iverson, the NBA’s most valuable player in 2000.
Iverson’s appearance drew loud cheers from the crowd.
Other Sixers such as Todd MacCulloch, Derrick Coleman, and forward Keith Van Horn also showed off some of their antics.
Camera flashes were bursting throughout the night as many wanted snapshots of their hometown Sixers.
Flamboyant girls attempted desperately to rush the court to try and snag a pair of Eric Snow’s shoes, or in one case, his sweaty towel.
Meghan O’Donnell, a freshman at Temple celebrated her birthday last Wednesday.
She wanted nothing more than an article of any kind from a 76er.
“My room is filled with 76ers’ stuff, my favorite Sixers are Allen Iverson and Eric Snow,” she said.
“All I want is Eric’s shoes or a signature or something. I’ll even take his towel.”
O’Donnell got her wish.
When Snow came over to the bench, he threw her his towel.
“I’m never washing this towel,” she said.
“I’m gonna hang this on my wall with all of my other apparel.”
But by the end of the night, not as many fans were as fortunate as O’Donnell.
What was supposed to be a blast turned into a drawn-out event that many wished would end sooner than scheduled.
“I think the event stretched on a little too long,” Conen said.
“We learned some things from that. We’re limited to some degree as what we could do.”
As the night continued, the number of fans at the event drastically diminished into a sparse crowd.
This may have been due to the lousy weather outside, or the fact that the event was held on a Wednesday.
Some students felt the event could have been promoted better.
Justin Mendek, a sophomore member of the Temple baseball team, happened to stroll in by accident while the Sixers were still on the court.
“This is pretty cool how the 76ers are here,” he said.
“I didn’t even know this [Hoops Hysteria] was going on tonight. I would have never known this was going on if I didn’t walk by after working out tonight.”
After the Sixers left the court, the men’s and women’s basketball teams scrimmaged against one another for a short period of time.
After they were done, they all but disappeared and lacked any type of involvement with the crowd.
Hip Hop, the Sixers mascot, was bouncing up and down like a rabbit on caffeine pills, showing off his dunking skills while cheerleaders were flipping like coins in the air, and rappers from RocaFella Records attempted to rock the house, but fans took their efforts lightly.
“This is really weak, I don’t think that anybody knew this was going on tonight,” an anonymous student said.
“They didn’t promote this very well at all.”
The large disappointment can be attributed to the lack of environment and excitement provided by the event.
An intern for Comcast, who asked not to be identified, also worked a neighboring city school for Midnight Madness.
He felt the crowd at the Liacouras Center was extremely poor.
“I worked the St. Joe’s Midnight Madness the next night,” he said.
“Considering the amount of people that Temple has, and the much smaller student body at St. Joe’s, I think it’s kind of a disgrace that St. Joe’s Midnight Madness was packed and Temple can’t even manage to fill the first five rows in their student section… something’s obviously wrong here.”
By 9 p.m., the crowd seemingly thinned into a fan base relative to a high school baseball game stuck in 40-degree weather with torrential rainfall.
Temple student Doug Saylor said he was shamed by the lack of attendance and excitement.
“I think the highlight of the night was the 76ers dancers, they were awesome,” he said.
“The cheerleaders were great too, but it’s a shame they had nobody to cheer to in the crowd.”
Midnight Madness to many basketball fans around the nation is supposed to be a crazy party to celebrate the opening of the college basketball season, but Hoops Hysteria proved to be a large disappointment for some students in attendance.
The line that once wrapped around the entire arena with students awaiting tickets for the regular season was a great Temple tradition.
Unfortunately this year’s Hoops Hysteria was a lackluster ordeal.
“I’m already hoping they do something different for next year,” Saylor said.
“If this event stays on the same track, it’s hard to imagine anyone showing up at all in the future.”
David Gunning can be reached at PSGUNN11@aol.com.