Midnight Madness

Jimmy Pyles

A slam-dunk contest, a three-point shootout, free food and tickets for fans – all in one event – can only be described as madness.

Just a week and two days before the USI men’s and women’s first exhibition games, they kicked off the season’s practice on Oct. 14 in the Physical Activates Center (PAC).

Midnight Madness is a tradition that every college has. USI’s take on this national event introduces the men’s and women’s players and has a list of games and events for players and fans.

This was junior guard Jessica Parker’s first Midnight Madness at USI.

“It’s pretty awesome to say that other big schools do this, but USI has it’s (own) way of doing it,” Parker said. “It’s really exciting how everyone came together and got pumped up for our upcoming season.”

This year’s Midnight Madness was centered around a three-point shootout and a slam-dunk contest.

The three-point shootout puts four men’s players against four of the women’s players. Each shooter picked a spot and had 30 seconds to make as many three-pointers as possible.

This was the second year in a row the women have beaten the men in the shootout.

The women’s shootout team included Parker, guard Libby Ogden, guard Mariah Nimmo and guard Taylor Stevenson.

In Stevenson’s second Midnight Madness, she was excited to beat the men again.

“The men are great athletes, but it’s always fun beating them,” Stevenson said. “We take a lot of pride (in) winning the three-point contest. We don’t get a dunk contest, so we have to show them up when we can.”

Midnight Madness ended the night with the slam-dunk contest. The participants were sophomore forward Austin Davis, junior forward Manny Ogunfolu, senior guard Kenyon Smith, freshman forward Nick Hutcheson and junior forward Orlando Rutledge.

This year, instead of having judges picked from the crowed to score the dunks, the dunks were scored by the noise level from the crowd.

It came down to Davis and Smith for the slam-dunk king crown.

Davis seemed to have Smith beat with a dunk that he bounced off the floor near the scoreboard. But Smith responded with a between-the-legs dunk on his first attempt to take the crown. Junior guard Lawrence Thomas, who was the commentator during the contest, declared him the winner.

“When I was in air, I knew I got it through my legs but I don’t remember the rest,” Smith said. “I think I blacked out. Davis does that dunk a lot in practice, so I wasn’t too worried about my chances.”

Winning the slam-dunk contest held special meaning for Smith due to this being his last year at USI.

“I tried that dunk before, but this was my first time ever making it,” Smith said. “I came in wanting to win, being a senior. I knew I wouldn’t get the chance again.”