Mason Midnight Madness Tips Off Basketball Season Friday

Posted: October 13, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

Bands, games, and great food will be featured Friday, Oct. 15, as the Intercollegiate Athletics Department offers U.S. Army Presents Mason Midnight Madness to mark the beginning of the basketball season.

Doors open at 10:30 p.m., with the start of the festivities at 11 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Mason Midnight Madness, which is being held for the eighth straight year, is the annual rite of fall on the Fairfax Campus. More than 3,000 fans are expected to attend the festivities, which feature pre-practice games for fans. Also included will be dance routines from the nationally recognized George Mason cheerleaders and Masonettes, innovative introductions of the basketball teams, and an atmosphere that promotes fun and excitement.

An impressive indoor fireworks display will welcome the men’s and women’s basketball players when they are introduced at the stroke of midnight. The late-night session will end with brief scrimmages by both teams.

The 2004-05 men’s basketball team will welcome five newcomers to its ranks, after last year’s team won a record 23 games and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Mason narrowly missed out on an NCAA berth after dropping a one-point decision in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship game. Head coach Jim Larranaga, who has led the Patriots to four postseason berths in the past six seasons, is entering his eighth year at the helm. He owns a 321-253 overall record in 20 seasons and is 123-84 at Mason. He needs just eight wins this year to become George Mason’s coach with the most wins, surpassing John Linn (1971-80), who earned 130 victories.

“Midnight Madness is the official start of the college basketball season and having students, faculty, and staff turn out in large numbers is important to build school spirit,” says Larranaga. “The event has enjoyed a great deal of support and growth over the past few years, and we appreciate the dedication our fans have shown.”

Mason’s 2004-05 women’s squad will greet seven newcomers to the roster and return six veterans. The Patriot women had a stellar season last year, advancing to the CAA title game, and earning a Women’s NIT invitation for their second postseason appearance in four years. Both of the Patriots’ postseason berths have come under the tutelage of head coach Debbie Taneyhill (103-89 overall record in seven years at Mason), who is second all-time in wins at Mason. The team will also host the 2005 CAA Women’s Championship at the Patriot Center, March 9-12.

“We are very excited to begin our season and hope that the whole Mason community will come join in the festivities Friday night,” says Taneyhill. “It is a great kickoff for our players and a chance for everyone to meet our teams. We hope for a great turnout and a fun kickoff.”

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