Published November 20, 2014
Josh Thompson made Midnight Madness a real family affair.
The senior forward for Wagner College drew plenty of national attention at last season's opening practice when he dunked over his mother to win a contest among his teammates.
It isn't just the major powers who entertain their fans to open the season. Quite of few of the nearly 350 Division I programs have some sort of showy scrimmage and almost every one includes a dunking contest.
Wagner, which is expected to challenge for the Northeast Conference title this season, is no different.
To go that extra little bit that makes every dunking contest different, Thompson jumped over his mother and father on Friday night at Wagner's "Madness before Midnight."
"He didn't know anything about it," Thompson said of including the other parent in his family flyover. "He had his camera and I told him to put it down. He said 'Why can't I take pictures?' and I told he was going to be with my mother and he gave me that smile and said 'All right.'"
Asked why he didn't tell them about being involved in the dunk, Thompson said, "They would have turned right around and headed home."
Thomspon stood his parents, Josh and Diane, back to back at an angle in the key. He took a couple of dribbles, then took off, clearing both before he dunked, just grazing his father with his right leg.
"My dad was excited like a player. He was an athlete himself," the younger Thompson said. "My mom had her eyes closed and she must have asked my five times, 'Did you do it? 'Did you make it?' I told her I made it."
Thompson, however, did not repeat as dunk champion at the Staten Island, N.Y. school. Freshman guard Dwaun Anderson, a transfer from Michigan State, didn't have any family members in the lane. he just soared,
"First of all, Dwaun is an incredible athlete and he is so exciting to watch once he takes off on a dunk," Thompson said. "He did some kind of 360-degree windmill dunk and put the ball between his legs. Just say it was some crazy dunk."
— Connecticut's annual "First Night" was the opening event in the career of coach Kevin Ollie and he was welcomed with a video from Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, who retired as coach of the Huskies last month. Ollie's first season will be one with no Big East or NCAA tournament because of academic reasons.
— It wouldn't have been "Late Night with Roy" at North Carolina without Roy Williams — and the Hall of Fame coach looked thrilled to be back after his recent cancer scare. In his first public appearance on the Smith Center sideline since the scare, Williams received three distinct, extended standing ovations from the crowd. Williams watched his team's 20-minute informal intrasquad scrimmage from the scorer's table and then came the usual fare of dance moves by players and a few assistant coaches.
— North Carolina State officials stopped the public scrimmage when the grandfather of senior Scott Wood fell ill at courtside and was carried away on a stretcher. Team spokesman Dwayne Harrison said Wood's grandfather was taken to a hospital for evaluation, but he was alert and conscious. The scrimmage was part of the "Primetime with the Pack" event that included second-year coach Mark Gottfried entering by riding a zip line down to the court from the second level of the PNC Arena.
— Kentucky's Big Blue Madness featured a group of Wildcat legends raising the school's eighth national championship banner to the Rupp Arena rafters. A capacity crowd was introduced to the much-heralded freshmen class that includes big men Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein, forward Alex Poythress and guard Archie Goodwin. Transfers Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow also debuted.
— Kansas had a little scare in "Late Night in the Phog" when the lights suddenly faded during the women's team scrimmage. According to the campus fire marshal, someone at the scorer's table hit the wrong switch instead of a buzzer. Then, amid the fog and drone of plastic noisemakers, Kansas unveiled new Big 12 championship and Final Four banners which makes 55 and 14, respectively. The Jayhawks bring in seven freshmen and two redshirts in trying to follow last season's run to the national championship game.
— Baylor's Deuce Bello earned perfect 10s from all four judges in the dunk contest after jumping over 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin in the opening round. Bello, a 6-4 sophomore, did a back flip when he was introduced with his teammates at the start of the event.
— Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim entered the court for "Orange Madness" in a U.S. army vehicle and was joined by soldiers from Fort Drum military base. Boeheim showed the crowd his gold medal from this past summer at the London Olympics, where he served as an assistant coach for the U.S. team, and thanked the soldiers for their service before the scrimmage began. The final event of the night was a dunl contest that women's team freshman Brittney Sykes. The 5-foot-9 Sykes was last to go and the McDonald's All-America attempted to dunk multiple times, but she struggled to get to the rim and fell short on each attempt.