Oct. 18, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State basketball programs welcomed in the 2008-09 season tonight at the Breslin Center, as they honored the past history of Spartan basketball with this year's rendition of Midnight Madness - Fight Night Flashback. The women's basketball squad recognized the beginning of the program in the early 1970s, while the men honored the 30th anniversary of the 1979 National Championship team, along with the numerous players who have played before them.
Fans arrived early to get autographs of their favorite Spartans and would eventually trickle into their seats for the night's festivities. The event began with a performance by the Spartan Marching Band, which led into the appearance of the dance team, cheerleaders, Sparty and Drumline. The electricity of the building grew even more as athletic director Mark Hollis introduced head football coach Mark Dantonio to the near-capacity crowd.
Head women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant was next to emerge, dressed like Carol Burnett, to host The Suzy Merchant Show. As host, she addressed the fans in attendance and welcomed to the floor the 2008-09 women's basketball squad. The team, dressed like the top musical artists of the 1970s, performed a dance compilation, before being individually introduced at center court. The spotlight would return to Coach Merchant, as she quickly changed into a new costume, this time a disco suit, and re-enacted a dance from Saturday Night Fever with a John Travolta look-a-like.
Following the women's team, it was time for the men's team to shine. Each player was introduced with a pre-recorded video, talking about past Spartans, and strutted down an aisle from the concourse onto the court. After each student-athlete was down on the hardwood, head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo rolled out in a VW Vanagan, dressed as a hippie. Coach Izzo addressed the fans, and as he finished, in a tribute to the 1979 team, the team took off their warmups and exposed their retro 1979 jerseys, short-shorts included.
The night concluded with a 10-minute women's scrimmage, followed by a dunk contest and 20-minute scrimmage for the men.
Both teams will hold their first official practices tomorrow morning, beginning what both teams hope is a championship season.