Madness ends basketball preseason

Brice Burge

The Northern Michigan men’s basketball team has started their preseason activities this week, as they held the first ever tip-off luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 12 and will participate in Midnight Madness starting at 11:30 p.m. tonight, as the new-look basketball team is pushing the program to new heights.

“Were looking to gain a lot of interaction with the fan base and build a large fan base,” said captain center Mylan Murphy. “We have a lot of hype and excitement behind us, and its exciting us too.”

Tuesday’s luncheon was held in the Peter White lounge and was attended by approximately 250 alumni, basketball boosters and media. Speakers like NMU Athletic Director Ken Godfrey, President Les Wong and new head coach Doug Lewis Jr. talked about the dedication to the upcoming season, by the players, coaching staff and the university.

“Athletics are an important part of what makes a good university great,” Wong said in his speech. “You will see board members at both home and road games.”

The headline speaker of the luncheon was Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond. Hammond was the 2010 NBA Executive of the Year for his acquisitions of Brandon Jennings and John Salmons, but was also a former coach of Lewis at Southwest Missouri State.

“We brought in (Lewis) to replace our starting guard,” Hammond said. “He had great presence and command of the game and is a man of character.”

That command of the game and character is what the Wildcats will try to bring to the court this year as they displayed their team motto “fast break on the lake.”

“We’re going to push the ball every possession,” Lewis said in his speech.

However the word that better embodies the team is change. NMU has 10 new players on their 16-member roster, a new coaching staff and new philosophies, both on and off the court.

“We did the parade and stuff like the other teams have done, but the coaches have gone out all over campus and Marquette, shaking hands and trying to start a new student section,” Murphy said. “The things that go above and beyond have been from the coaches, but it comes onto us as well.”

The first opportunity to see the Wildcats will be tonight at Midnight Madness. The half-party, half-practice event is a common practice among basketball schools, but has never been done at Northern. The NMU dance team and cheerleaders will each perform, as well as a DJ. Different crowd activities, like a shooting contest, will also be held, while the team will have an inter-squad scrimmage. The Madness will end with a slam dunk contest, with transfer DeAndre Taylor, freshman David Maturah and Murphy competing, with others to be named before the competition.

“It’s new and NMU basketball will get to a level it’s never reached before. People are going to see that (tonight). Everyone is going to start feeling great about NMU basketball.

Midnight Madness will start at 11:30 p.m. in PEIF 150, which are the practice gyms for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.