As volleyball coach Tom Hilbert stood in a nearly deserted Moby gym and talked about some of his players participating in tonight’s dunk contest, Midnight Madness seemed to be a more appropriate title for this evening’s festivities.
But Hilbert, in a good mood after finishing an afternoon practice, was only joking.
Tonight around 10 p.m., the focus of the Green Machine and the rest of the Moby faithful will be on basketball for the first time since the afternoon of March 3, 2007, when the UNLV Lady Rebels edged out the Rams in their last regular season game.
For the first time since 2003, CSU will host a kickoff event designed to get fans excited about the upcoming basketball season. 10 O’clock Rock, as it is known, will follow tonight’s key volleyball match between No. 21 CSU and BYU.
The event will be the first opportunity for fans to see new men’s basketball coach Tim Miles in action, as his team, along with coach Jen Warden and the players, take to the floor for various competitions and promotions highlighted by a three-point shootout and the ever-popular dunk contest.
Willis Gardner, one of many new additions to the men’s roster this year, never participated in anything like this at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., where he last played, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t rearing to go.
“I’m really excited because everybody is new here,” Gardner said. “So it gives us a chance to see the new team. This is an opportunity to meet the fans and showcase our talent.”
Practice only started this past weekend, so players and coaches alike are relishing the opportunity to get out on the hardwood and show the fans what they are about.
“We finally get to do what we were hired to do, which is coach the team and get this baby cranked up,” Miles said. “Anytime anything has to do with coaching, it is always an exciting an adventure for me.”
Many programs around the country have a similar event called Midnight Madness this time of year. Midnight Madness is traditionally a way to celebrate the first moment that basketball teams are allowed to practice by the NCAA. CSU has chosen to take a bit different take on this tradition for several reasons.
“The midnight madness phase was back in the ’80s or ’90s,” athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said. “The first minute you could practice, everybody was out there, but a lot of that has gone by the wayside now. This is an opportunity to do something a little bit different, a little more special event.”
The fact that what Kowalczyk calls “perhaps the biggest volleyball game we’re going to play all year” falls on this night also had a lot to do with the departure from the Midnight Madness norm.
“I’m pleased that we can combine events,” Hilbert said. “Because I would imagine a lot of (the volleyball team’s) fans, actually the student fans, are going to be the student basketball fans as well. It’s one big thing that everyone can enjoy.”
For his part, Miles is glad to be associated with the volleyball team.
“To be able to ride Hilbert’s coattails and the volleyball team’s coattails, well we’ll just hop right on those,” Miles said.
Miles has past experience participating in a similar event called “The Late Show” at his last school, North Dakota State.
“It’s always been enjoyable, and remotely exciting, depending on how many dunks they make,” Miles said, joking about his past experiences.
By all accounts, Miles was the loudest voice in creating the event, with The Late Show being the inspiration.
“The coaches have a lot to do with it,” Kowalczyk said. “How excited they are, and having Tim (Miles) on board, he’s trying to make an impression and get people excited as quickly as he can, and Jen (Warden), she’s always game for anything, so it worked perfectly in her wheelhouse as well.”
What: 10 O’clock Rock
When: After volleyball takes on BYU at 7 p.m.
Where: Moby Arena
Why: Basketball is back!