Basketball magic at UC Irvine

October 12, 2005|By By Elia Powers

There's nothing like the allure of college basketball's March Madness -- with the brackets, the office pools and the constant hoops action.

But it's October. What's a fan to do?

Across the country, basketball nuts have traditionally packed collegiate arenas for late-night events that celebrate the start of practice.

Blake Sasaki, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions at UC Irvine, watched the spirited events as a young basketball fan. Now he is trying to replicate the excitement on his campus.

"We're trying to bring a sense of pride and tradition," Sasaki said. "The goal is to promote the teams."

At most schools, the hoopla events are called "Midnight Madness." But there's a patent on that title, so Sasaki is calling the event "2005 Midnight Magic in the O.C."


For the eighth straight year, the UCI men's and women's basketball teams will show off their skills at the free event, which starts at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Bren Events Center. The event will include a live Internet feed available at www.ant

Video games and other activities will be available on the Bren Center concourse. At 10:30 p.m., fans will be taken into the Bren Center arena where they will be taught the "Rip 'em Eaters" hand sign and the fight song, and see performances by the UCI cheer squad and dance team.

The men's and women's basketball teams will be introduced and participate in short scrimmages; a co-ed, three-point shooting contest; and a slam-dunk contest -- often the most popular event, Sasaki said.

"The excitement of seeing these athletes glide through the air and make powerful dunks brings people there," he said.

About 1,500 people attended last year's event, Sasaki said. This year, the athletic department is looking to attract more community members by holding the event on Saturday and starting it earlier in the evening.

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