I didn’t see a write up on Ice Jam anywhere so I figured I’d make one. The place was fuller than I’d have expected with about 2/3 of the donor seats on each sideline being occupied. It was almost entirely students and I think the “snow” probably kept any members of the general populace away. If even half of those students show up to bball games we’d have an amazing atmosphere. Unfortunately many seemed disinterested most of the night and a large number left early.
The program got underway with opening remarks from Steve Levy and a welcome video from some former Eagles (the students sitting behind me were like “I bet they’ll have Doug Flutie or Mark Herzlich or BJ Raji” and then when Craig Smith popped up they were like “who?” and one of them asked if he was a hockey player). The audio feed from the jumbotron was awful all night, the live microphones seemed to work pretty well, but it was hard to hear any of the pre-recorded segments.
Women’s bball intros followed and then women’s hockey. Each team preceded its intro with a short video skit up on the jumbotron. IMO women’s hockey had the best skit of the night, and it seemed like most of the crowd felt the same way. Hopefully BC posts the skits online somewhere. Men’s bball came out next joined by a freestyling dancer from America’s Got Talent (missed his name, don’t watch the show) disguised as a member of the team. The dancer performed an exceptionally exciting routine. Men’s hockey came out next, but when the team was announced a youth team in full BC jerseys and pads skated out. A comedic routine involving Steve Levy interviewing members of the youth team followed and then the real team was introduced. There was a brief scrimmage between the real team and the 8-year olds.
Next up women’s bball had a dance off against a BC dance group, and then women’s hockey did a choreographed dance on ice set to Party Rock. This was followed up by a hockey skills challenge where 2 men’s and 2 women’s players attempted to hit 4 targets set up in the 4 corners of the goal in the fastest time. Bball then had their 3-point contest with 2 men’s players, 2 women’s players, and a student. Danny Rubin won, despite not getting through the entire final rack of balls before time expired. Then there was a “minute-to-win-it” contest involving throwing ping pong balls off of the backboard being worn by an athlete into a small bucket. Four athletes (1 from each team) teamed with four students. Then there was a fifth team of Father MacMillan and another Father (an Australian, forget his name). Costume contest followed this, and then a raffle winner had a chance to shoot a shot from center ice into a small slit in the goal to win $50,000 tuition. He missed by only a couple inches and the crowd screamed for him to get one more shot. They decided to give him 1 more shot for $1,000 and he missed badly this time. This concluded the night.
I thought it was a very well-run event. There are only two things I thought were missing. First, is that NONE of the coaching staffs or head coaches were introduced. I thought that was kind of silly. Steve Donahue sat in a corner in a track jacket the whole night, he was never even on the floor. The coach is the only marketable member of any team in the NCAA. You can’t sell the individual players but you can sell the coach, and you’ve gotta play them up. If you’re not gonna let the coach make a few remarks or something at least introduce them with the rest of their team. The coaches didn’t even get to walk out during team intros. Nothing.
Second change (and I know this is hard since Conte is split half court half ice) would be to find a way to do some type of scrimmage. Every midnight madness everywhere else in the country involves the first scrimmage of the year for the bball teams, a chance to see the new players in action, and to see the rest of the team for the first time all year. That’s something that was conspicuously missing here (not as big a deal for hockey cause they’ve been playing for several weeks but big for bball). I know I tend to bring this up in every post I make, but I went to Maryland and the biggest draws at midnight madness there are the first bball scrimmage of the year, and the alumni game which this year featured most of the 2002 national championship team. Kentucky ran an alumni game this year that featured UK alums vs. what they called villains (Christian Lattener and others who have famously burned Kentucky in the past). This kind of thing does wonders for recruiting. These events are when you sell recruits on your tradition and your atmosphere and I’m not even sure there were any recruits in the house last night.
Anyway, those are my thoughts and I cant wait for bball season to kick off. Other random thought is I got to meet the Donahue’s Disciples guys and they seem like very cool dudes. Really have the right ideas about how to get the student section going.