Midnight Madness Kicks Off Husky Hoops Season

Oct. 16, 2009

• Midnight Madness/Dunk Contest Gallery

By Jeremy Cothran

SEATTLE - The Washington men's basketball team used plenty of fanfare and intrigue on Friday night to officially begin its Pac-10 title defense at Bank of America Arena.

They did so with as one of eight teams to perform a Midnight Madness event for ESPNU, and the show delivered plenty of excitement, along with a few twists.

The team began the evening with some fog-filled introductions, and then huddled together to sing the Washington fight song. A few verses in, the players flipped the script and performed a rap, which brought about raucous applause from the thousands in attendance.

Then coach Lorenzo Romar took the microphone and kicked-off the event.

'We want to thank you all for coming out,' Romar said to the crowd. 'This is the first day we could get going. Our guys have been looking forward to this for a long time.'

Then, with Romar serving as the master of ceremonies, the Huskies began preparations for the dunk contest. Only this time around, the crowd was allowed to select the competitors after the warm-ups. The top five picked were Venoy Overton, Clarence Trent, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Isaiah Thomas and Darnell Gant.

Thomas won the event with a dunk that shook the building, leaping well over Bryan-Amaning to put closure to the much-anticipated contest. This came after Overton appeared to win over judges with a reverse, double-pump jam from the baseline.

Freshman C.J. Wilcox won the 3-point contest against sophomore Elston Turner. The event pitted both players against students plucked out of the crowd.

Following the 3-point contest was a 10-minute scrimmage, which was heavy on breakaway dunks and fancy passes, but light on defense. Romar joked afterward that it's good to let his team get those plays out of their system. But the tradeoff instead of a normal practice is a high-profile event that puts the program in televisions around the country. So Romar believed it was a worthy exchange.

'I think it is,' Romar said. 'Anytime we can get our program some recognition around the country, it's tough to turn it down.'

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