Midnight Madness will be a fun time for all Mavs

CJ Davis loves to play to the crowd.

The sharp-shooting junior guard vows to have all kinds of fun Friday night in the first Midnight Madness in several years at Brownson Arena.

This is the kid who dabbed as he ran down the floor after hitting a clutch 3-pointer in a game last season, the one who will turn to the crowd and wave his arms to get fans on their feet.

And don’t be surprised if he grabs a slice of pizza at some point.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be on display from 10:30 p.m. until 1 a.m., and they can’t wait to show off a little bit in front of the students, who usually don’t get to see a basketball game until January because of ill-timed holiday breaks when it comes to watching some hoops.

Midnight Madness has become tradition at Division I programs, complete with dozens of blue-chip recruits in attendance, players dancing and dunking — and even some actual basketball scrimmaging.

It originally coincided with the first minute teams could start practice, but now they’ve been scheduled a few days after teams get on the court — Oct. 15 in Division II.

Mesa had a Midnight Madness several years ago, but it never became an annual thing, whether it just didn’t get planned, or, as former coach Jim Heaps quipped, was way past his bed time.

Just for the record, Ryan Stephan is not happy CMU waited until he moved to Japan to start Midnight Madness.

“Every year for 4 years I wanted this and I never got it. First year after I leave it happens. Unreal,” he posted on his Twitter account when the event was announced.

The Herd, the student section at CMU that’s sponsoring the event, invited him back as a special guest. He’s otherwise engaged, playing pro basketball in Tokyo.

For the current Mavericks, it’s a way to have a little fun during the first few weeks of practice, and maybe pick up a few new fans.

“It’ll be fun to get out there before our season starts and get some excitement for the season,” Davis said, “get some more support from the students. It’ll be cool.”

Davis will be in the 3-point contest — he made 94 from well beyond the arc last season (and 22 inside the 3-point line).

“We’ll have to see,” he said when asked who the favorite was. “Come out Friday. For my team, Nate’s (Hawley) gonna be tough.”

But when pressed ...

“I’m winnin’ it,” he said, grinning.

The women have several choices for the contest, with two of the top 3-point shooters in the RMAC the past two years, Erin Reichle and Bryanna Adams. Reichle said they haven’t been talking smack in practice, but come Friday night, it’s on.

“We don’t play in front of very many students,” Reichle said. “We have an awesome fan base even without them, so getting in front of them brings a whole other atmosphere.”

Sure, it’s geared toward students, but the late-night adult crowd is welcome to show up and get a sneak peek, since the Mavs don’t play at home until Thanksgiving.

Students can buy a shooting contest raffle ticket for $1. They need to make a layup, 3-pointer and half-court shot in one minute. The prize is nice: One semester’s tuition.

The highlight of the night (besides free pizza — these are college kids, remember) will be the dunk contest.

Sign Reichle up for that one.

“If they would lower the basket to like five feet,” she said.

Davis, too, said he’d need a lower rim to dunk, so he’ll leave that up to the skywalkers.

Eimer Lopez had a couple of highlight-reel dunks last season, but he’s probably not the favorite.

“Umm ... James,” Davis said of James Sylvester, a 5-foot-10 senior transfer from Coppin State who has jaw-dropping leaping ability. “It will be fun, we’ve got a sleeper in Tanner (Riley). But I think James will take it for sure.”

The players are starting to get excited about showing off a little bit, even though it’s going to be a late night.

“We’re a little worried about sleep that night,” Reichle said. “We practice at 8 in the morning.”


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