The Panthers bring it in after completing their open scrimmage

Midnight Madness marks the unofficial start of Panthers basketball

Malcolm Gilbert and J.J. Moore enjoy a light moment during Media Day.

As much as this sounds like one of the four questions from Passover, you have to ask: What makes this Midnight Madness different from all the others?

Well both the Pittsburgh Panthers Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams will be playing outdoors for their fans and close by the Cathedral of Learning with ESPN-U televising the event. Bill Rafferty will call the game.

Both teams note how excited they are for the event and have skits planned to perform for the fans.

Following the men’s event, there will be a dunk competition between J.J. Moore, Trey Ziegler, Chris Jones and Aron Nwankwo.

Moore enters the dunk competition as the two time champion and while he understandably will not reveal any of his tricks, he promises the fans a show and had the swagger of a champion.

“It definitely feels good being the two time champion,” Moore said. “I just feel good and hopefully will be fun.”

At Pitt Media Day, this was a widely discussed topic. Here are many opinions on the event:

Head Coach Agnes Berenato: “Being so young, any little thing gets the kids off track, but we are very, very excited. The weather doesn’t bother me at all because I think our emotion and the excitement will warm our spirit, and we are all pretty warm people anyway. I texted my husband yesterday, who’s a hunter, and asked if he had any hand warmers, that (assistant coaches) Khadija (Head) or Patty (Coyle) told me about, that come in little packs that you squeeze. I never really heard of them, but he said yeah he has tons of them, so I have hand warmers for everyone.”

Guard Abby Dowd: “I’m definitely always teetering between being mildly horrified that I’m going to be doing this on national television and just so excited. It’s so cool. It’s outside, I mean, I don’t know what other structure is better to have as the backdrop than the Cathedral of Learning. It’s just going to be visually incredible, and in addition to that, all the energy that we have. I don’t know what the boys’ energy level is like, but I know our team is at least going to have that energy. It’s homecoming weekend so you know all the students are just so fired up, and I mean, who’s not excited for midnight madness?”

Guard Ashlee Anderson: “I’m pretty excited. I think it’s a great opening to the weekend, especially with it being the 225th anniversary of Pitt. So, it’s a lot of alumni back on campus and a lot of energy going around campus and the university, and also within our team. So, I’m excited because it’s my first midnight madness. I think growing up you always see other teams having midnight madness and I’m just excited to be a part of it. Especially being outside, I’m pretty excited. I’ll see tomorrow when we’re actually out there and we have to compete against each other. It’s just doing little fun things to get the fans involved.”

Guard Brianna Kiesel: “I’m excited. This is my first time going to a school that actually had midnight madness. I’m just excited and there are so many things we can do. Our teams are excited and I know the men’s team is doing something pretty cool. Their skit is going to be pretty interesting. And what we’re going to do is going to be pretty interesting, too. It’s really going to be a good start to the season.”

Jamie Dixon: “We’re getting ready and getting excited for the event. We haven’t had Midnight Madness for awhile. We’re excited about ESPN being a part of it. It’s homecoming this weekend and the Blue and Gold scrimmage is on Sunday with the Maggie Dixon Heart Health Fair.”

Guard/Forward Trey Ziegler: “We’re going to have fun tomorrow. We have a fun skit planned for all of the fans as well as the dunk contest. We’re going to hide the skit from everybody until tomorrow.”

Guard John Johnson: “It’s going to be cold, but it’s not going to be that cold. I’m just excited to interact the fans and excited to be a part of something like that.”

Power forward/Center Dante Taylor: “I definitely think it’s going to be good for the fans but also for us. For most of us on the team, it’s the first time we’re going to have a Midnight Madness and we see it a lot of TV’s with other schools, so the fact that we’re a part of it, especially in our last year in the Big East, is definitely going to be good.”

Center Steven Adams: “It’s going to be cold as hell. It’s going to be just like street ball back in the old days, it should be sweet.”

Midnight Madness is free an open to the public with the event schedule to begin at 10 p.m. as part of Homecoming Weekend.

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