Junior Matt Fleischman could care less about basketball. But at 8:15 p.m. last Wednesday, approximately 33 hours until basketball season tickets went on sale, Fleischman and other pledges were frozen to the bone, enclosed in a tent in front of the Liacouras Center, where they planned on being the first students to purchase tickets at Morning Madness.
Fleischman had no choice, of course, because this was a fraternity thing. He wasn’t the only pledge to endure the small brush with winter; all the pledge brothers worked in shifts to ensure the fraternity’s place in line.
“It hasn’t been that bad because it’s been two hour rotations,” Fleischman said. “It’s warmer only because the wind is not blowing. But at 6 a.m., I came for my second shift and it was so cold.”
Fraternity brothers, drunks, loyalists; call them what you want, but for one reason or another an array of Temple students came out to the Liacouras Center during the wee hours of last Friday morning for Morning Madness. It was a chance to chow down on some pig, groove to some live music or count down to the college basketball season.
After a year hiatus the University’s marketing and promotions department brought back the all-night celebration, which bought in approximately 400 to 500 students during the course of the night.
Zach Conen, Director of Marketing, Promotions and Ticket Sales, said over 1,100 tickets had already been pre-sold as a part of a special offer during the summer. It allowed fans to get both football and basketball season tickets.
Here’s some first-hand accounts of what went down late night last Thursday (or early Friday) along Broad Street
Friday 12:25 a.m.
Wearing a snowflake-patterned ski hat and a Temple sweatshirt, freshman Doug Mazzocco is restlessly bobbing up and down on the curb in front of Vivacqua Hall, impatiently waiting for something interesting to happen.
“I’m just waiting for the prizes, man,” he said as the band Looking Glass Self covered Dave Matthews Band songs.
By the end of the night Mazzocco would leave with a John Chaney bobblehead doll and a signed poster from the Hall of Fame coach after correctly answering two trivia questions.
He’s not even thinking about his 8:40 a.m. microeconomics class.
A male student wearing a plastic basketball over his head eggs on a homeless lady wearing a purple coat who’s been harassing students and grooving to the band all night long.
The Draught Horse is alive and kicking. Freshman Devon Swoop has no idea Morning Madness is going on down the block and neither do most of the students who are at the Horse.
“I’m not going to wake up that early,” Swoop said. “I’m going to be in bed.”
Junior Danielle Cooke looks as if she’s never seen a mascot. As she slowly trudges down Broad Street and through the festivities, she gets Hooter to sign a piece of paper. His message: Study hard. That’s because Cooke has an 11:40 a.m. History of Broadcast midterm.
Cooke was a bit disappointed by the turnout, but she was just passing by hoping to score a piece of the pig roast. She was an hour too late.
“They said we could have the bones,” she said.
Sophomores Morgan Rodgers and Meaghan Green did the smart thing: They ordered their season tickets over the summer so they wouldn’t have to suffer through the harsh weather. Like many other students, they came for the pig. Though all that was left were scraps, they did come up with a name for the “Name the Pig Contest.”
“Dinner,” Rodgers said.
Freshman Andy Carl is pulling an all-nighter, staying up until his 9:40 a.m. class. Right now he’s anxiously awaiting a friend to return with a football. So far, he likes what he sees.
“This is kind of like a breath of fresh air,” Carl said. “It’s the first time I get to see school spirit first-hand.”
Freshman Ryan Feldman has the right idea. Knowing he’s going to be taking refuge in his tent with some friends for the next four hours, he decided to bring his Play Station 2 and start a Madden football tournament.
“We’re going to be here all night,” he said. “So we had to bring something to do.”
Senior Kate Humell is wrestling with a friend along the sidewalk in front of the Liacouras Center and says, “I wouldn’t come to a game if you paid me.”
Humell obviously has had a few drinks.
Senior Justin Abualjadail just arrived and admits Morning Madness this year is a disappointment compared to three years ago when over a thousand students flocked to the event.
“This used to be the thing to do but now it’s not,” he said.
As the temperature drops toward freezing, junior Sudha Suryadevara is scorching. She’s just won a commemorative Temple basketball autographed by none other than Hall of Fame coach John Chaney when she answers the trivia question: Who are the school’s first and second all-time leading scorers? Mark Macon and Lynn Greer were the answers. Greer also happens to be her favorite player of all time.
“I know lots of useless facts about the basketball team that most fans would not know,” she admits.
Suryadevara missed out on Morning Madness two years due to an overload of mid-terms. She’s excited they brought it back this year.
“It’s been so worth it. It’s been so much fun,” she said.
The cold continues to pierce Owl loyalists but they are strengthened by the sounds emitting from the boom box: Ice Cube’s “Good Day.”
Two girls are having a catch with a rugby ball, when Andy Simon jumps from out of nowhere to snatch it away. In a swoop Simon bobs and weaves across the street against invisible defenders until he makes it to the other side of Broad Street. He spikes the ball with gusto, and does a little touchdown dance.
“I just scooped up the loose ball and took it to the house baby,” said Simon, who is both a student and a marketing and advertising assistant for the University and is quite juiced on caffeine.
Walk-on junior guard Wilbur Allen saunters past the small crowd in front of the Liacouras Center and receives a standing ovation.
Sophomore Maurice “Mardy” Collins and freshman Dustin Salisbury enter next. Collins appreciates the support from the fans.
“It’s good to see them come out here and support us,” Collins said with a chuckle. “Last night a couple guys came out to see them. It’s good.”
Practice is about to begin as a small coterie of fans look on. This will be the only time they will get to witness the infamous Chaney morning practice.
Assistant coach Bill Ellerbee accurately sums it all up, “We tell ourselves it’s just a pleasure to be here every morning!”
Jason Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chris Silva can be reached at email@example.com.