Excitement filled the air as fans packed the Humphrey Coliseum on Friday night for Maroon Madness—an opportunity to get a first look at this year’s edition of Mississippi State Basketball.
With women’s basketball coming off their best season in school history and men’s basketball in prime position to capitalize on a talented roster, there was a noticeably bigger crowd for this year’s Maroon Madness compared to years past.
“It was a great night,” women’s basketball head coach Vic Schaefer said. “An opportunity to come out, to show off a little bit and have fun.”
The night started with the Greek 3-on-3 tournament, won by the Lamba Chi Fraternity. The player’s prize was the opportunity to compete with the teams in a hot shot contest. They were also made judges in the Dunk Contest, along with softball coach Vann Stuedeman and baseball coach Andy Cannizaro.
Thomas Mogish, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, was a part of the Lamba Chi team that won the tournament. He was also a member of the winning team in the hot shot contest, where he competed alongside junior guard Xavian Stapleton of the men’s team and freshman forward Chloe Bibby of the women’s team.
“It is awesome to be down on the court and playing,” said Mogish, from Franklin, Tennessee. “[The players] were awesome. They were really cool about everything.”
Mogish's teammate Stapleton stole the night, winning the hot shot contest and dominating the dunk contest for the second year in a row.
“Hope he gets a couple big dunks in a real game,” men’s basketball head coach Ben Howland said.
The women’s team were the stars of the three-point shot contest, with Victoria Vivians taking home the title on the women’s side of the shootout. Quinndary Weatherspoon won the men’s contest.
Throughout the event, iLuminate put on a show for the crowd. The former "America’s Got Talent" contestants put on an electric light dance show for the crowd and helped maintain excitement throughout the night.
Howland said, after the event, he had seen them before because his wife loves "America’s Got Talent" and thought they were a great addition to the event.
“A plus for our fans,” Howland said. “There was great production and I thought our marketing department did a great job.”
Overall, the take away from Friday night was the huge amount of excitement surrounding both programs. Basketball is back in Starkville and coaches of both teams are excited about this season.
Schaefer admitted last year’s team was special and it will be hard to replace last year's senior class. However, he said last year is over and this team should not feel any extra pressure.
“This year’s team is yet to be written about,” Schaefer said. “This team will write its history.”
With eight four- and five-star recruits on the roster, men's coach Howland knows he has the talent to make some waves this season.
“Our whole focus is one thing: staying healthy,” Howland said. “If we can stay healthy with our eleven scholarship players, we are going to have a fun year.”