Terps Kick Off Basketball Season With Annual Maryland Madness Event
Maryland Terrapins Men's Basketball Head Coach Gary Williams, in his 20th season as head coach, emerges from a Bearcat at Maryland Madness and thrills the crowd at the Comcast Center in College Park MD on October 17, 2008. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- In a national tradition that has its roots firmly planted in the days of Coach Lefty Driesell at the University of Maryland in the 1970s, the Maryland Terrapins opened their 2008-2009 basketball season this evening in front of adoring fans, spectators, and well wishers. When Coach Driesell started the "midnight madness" tradition NCAA regulations prohibited players from taking to the court until the stroke of midnight. However, concern for the safety of students, faculty, staff, and fans have caused the NCAA to relax their rules and "Madness" takes place starting at the stroke of 7pm.
 
Chick Hernandez from Comcast Sports Net, Testudo the Terrapin Mascot, and Head Coach Gary Williams started off the evening with a light-hearted look-a-like contest that featured 4 students that dressed in Gary Williams garb and attempted to mimic his mannerisms on the sideline.  To the enjoyment of all in attendance the 4 students tried their best to impersonate the veteran iconic coach by stomping on the court, pointing towards invisible referees in anger, and motivating the basketball team sitting courtside in their usual fold-away chairs.

In great tradition the Maryland Madness event on Friday night featured the best of the best from Maryland's athletics department and from the intramural sports organizations.  Gymkana, a non-profit gymnastics group formed on the College Park campus in 1946, tours the country and puts on shows that feature high-flying acrobatics, tumbling, apparatus routines, and novelty circus acts.  In their spectacle of a conclusion the troupe sets aflame a ring positioned well above a vaulting box while gymnasts leap off springboards and through the ring of fire.  Their drug-free inspiring message has been a representative cornerstone of the Maryland Athletics program.

The Maryland Spirit Squad (also known as the Dance Team) performed a routine at mid-court where they showed off some of their new talent and tested out their new moves.  The Cheerleading Squad followed with a routine of their own where they flipped through the air and grooved to beats played over the PA system.  Lastly the competitive cheerleading squad, national champions in 2008, took to the mat and stunned a shocked crowd with their stellar performance.

After performances by Gymkana and the cheerleaders / spirit squad, the fans in attendance got a look at the women's basketball team.  All 12 players, including seniors Kristi Tolliver and Marissa Coleman, joined up with the incoming freshman class and marched out to mid-court dressed in fatigues and hockey masks.  There, under the spectacle of several spotlights and a fog machine, the team performed a dance routine for the delight of the crowd.  After being individually introduced the players gathered at the far end of the court to await the arrival of Head Coach Brenda Frese.  Frese's arrival at mid-court marked the beginning of the 2008-2009 voyage and she invited the crowd to come out to every game and cheer on the Lady Terps during the season.  Towards the end she made a special point to invite fans to the February 22nd game against Duke at 5pm.

Once the women cleared the floor all eyes looked towards the men's tunnel where a white kabuki with a Maryland M was illuminated.  At the conclusion of a video displayed on the scoreboard a SWAT Bearcat emerged with red, white, and blue lights flashing and an Under Armour logo paste on the side.  After the BearCat made its way to roughly the mid-court line amongst heavy fog the top hatch popped open and Head Coach Gary Williams appeared in heavy sunglasses raising his traditional fist in the air.

Coach Williams made his way to mid-court where he talked about the tradition of Maryland Athletics and made a firm commitment that the team would be more consistent this year and would play with all the enthusiasm that Terrapin fans have come to expect.  He then took the sideline while the men's basketball team scrimmaged for 10 minutes.

At the conclusion of the event all in attendance looked ahead to the start of competition by both the women and the men.  Coach Frese opens her schedule at 2pm on November 2nd when the Terps play DT III in Comcast Center.  The men's opening exhibition game will be played roughly a week thereafter on November 8 at 2pm against Northwood University.