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Pitt's Morning Madness an intriguing idea that falls short

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Streeter Lecka

So, I got a pretty confusing email like most of you did yesterday. Something about a big basketball announcement. The inevitable click on my Blackberry (yeah, I'm one of those people) led me to something called Morning Madness.

Hey, lookit - an ultra shiny hype video.

If you've not yet heard, Pitt's basketball program will host its own version of Midnight Madness ... except it's not at midnight, it's at like 10:30 a.m. or something. Jokes aside, it's actually not a bad idea if the goal is to draw a crowd. Pitt will be hosting the event down at Stage AE over by Heinz Field, conveniently over homecoming weekend before the Panthers beat up on host Virginia for the football game. There will surely be people there so drawing a crowd won't be an issue.

In addition, hosting it around homecoming weekend, as they did last year, is really a smart idea. There will be a lot of alumni in town that have drifted away from following the athletics teams and it really is a way to get them excited about the basketball program - even if that interest is fleeting.

Now for the negative.

About that whole drawing a crowd thing - whenever and wherever you have Midnight Madness, there's going to be a crowd so that's really an irrelevant benefit. Last year it was a freezing night on Bigelow Boulevard and there were a lot of idiots standing around in the cold waiting for the dunk contest ... I was one of them (and trust me - my wife still reminds me about dragging her outdoors that night).

Folks also like to tailgate. It's going to be interesting to see how many beer pong players hike their butts over to Stage AE and give up their spot in line to play cornhole, ladder golf, or whatever to see Joseph Uchebo's knee looks okay. And at 10:30 a.m., it really becomes a matter of one or the other - tailgating or Jackie Moon. YOU MUST CHOOSE. And for those that like to get up at the crack of dawn to get as much tailgating in as possible, it still will mean packing up pretty early.

It's also completely out of the spotlight of Midnight Madness. While other schools are featured at the stroke of 12:00 a.m., Pitt won't be one of them. Instead of being on ESPN, the basketball players will likely be at some party in Oakland. It's really Midnight Madness without all of the frills and benefits of Midnight Madness, when you really think about it.

I'm not going to kill Pitt for this. And trust me, this surely beats the crap out of not doing anything at all as they did for several years. But at the end of the day, in an apples to apples comparison with Midnight Madness, it falls a bit short.

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