A version of Memphis’ love of basketball was on display as LeMoyne-Owen College held Midnight Madness at Bruce-Johnson Gym last Friday (October 14).
The annual event was the first held since the pandemic.
While basketball season looms, the Midnight Madness celebration was a time to honor all the sports teams on campus, with a special salute to Latino Heritage Month.
“We are also recognizing our Latino student athletes,” said Athletic Director William Anderson. “We want them to feel at home and hear their music and see their flags and know that we appreciate them and their cultures. It is a big night for LeMoyne-Owen College.”
One by one the LOC sports teams, including the cheer squads, were ushered into the gym, where they were well received by the students, fans and alumni.
After all of the players were introduced, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams ran drills to give a sneak preview of what the season may hold.
Men’s team preview
Last season was a learning one for first-year, men’s head coach Bonzi Wells, who also made his college-coaching debut.
With COVID-19 concerns forcing the cancellation of last year’s Memphis Madness, Wells was elated to experience the 2022 version.
“It is awesome. I am excited to see it,” said Wells.
“This is my first full year at the campus. It is vibrating and I’m excited to see the students back in here. All of the COVID restrictions are lifted. I am super excited to feel the energy.”
The Magicians finished the 2021 season with a 16-12 record and 11-9 in conference play. They lost in the second round of the SIAC post season tournament.
Asked who would lead the Magicians on the court this season, Wells, a former NBA standout, said, “Hopefully all of them will be leaders at some point this season. I am trying to build them all up. I tell them any day could be yours.”
Wells has some good returning players and some newcomers. He noted Gjerand Wilson, a junior guard from Upland, Calif. Holder of a black-belt, Wilson is described as disciplined and a hard worker. He is a lefty but prefers to use his right hand.
Wells wants his team of Magicians to pace themselves over the course of the season. He and the coaching staff are emphasizing playing hard all the time, eating right and having the right recovery time.
Women’s team preview
Head coach Antony Partee’s women’s team is looking to improve upon last season’s overall 13-14 record (5-3 conference) and contend for a deeper run in the postseason.
For Partee, it will be his tenth season as the head coach.
“It (Midnight Madness) means we are somewhat getting back to normal. It is good for the school and the program,” he said.
Looking toward the season, Partee said, “I think we are going to be over ready. We are super prepared. I am excited to see what we are going to bring to the season.
“This has been a full year since the pandemic, where we have had enough time to bring in the players and work them out.”
Looking to build upon experience gained last year, Madison Riley will be looked upon as an outside shooting threat. Gamariona “GiGi” Hollingsworth-Pugh is a newcomer, who can get buckets and play defense.
The Magicians will hold homecoming the week of October 23-29, with the men’s and women’s teams playing exhibition games against Xavier at Bruce-Johnson Hall on October 29.