The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 30th

Basketball to Star at Midnight Rally

The Carolina Athletic Association and UNC head basketball coach Matt Doherty aim to ignite fan enthusiasm with a "Midnight Madness" style rally Friday.

"Midnight with Matt and the Tar Heels" will be held at 10:30 p.m. in Carmichael Auditorium, with admission free and open to the public.

The rally will feature contests for fans, an address by Doherty and the first chance for UNC students to see this year's basketball team in action.

CAA President Tee Pruitt said he first proposed the idea for the event last spring, after spotting a change in the schedule for Fall Break.

"Midnight Madness" events typically take place at midnight on Oct. 14, the first day teams are sanctioned to practice by the NCAA.

Pruitt said he came up with the idea after seeing that this year's Fall Break fell before that date. "I saw the opportunity for a `Midnight Madness' type of event as an exciting way to start the season after the hype from last year's Final Four," he said.

CAA Sports Marketing Director Chris Jordan said Doherty liked the idea of connecting with the fans.

"Coach Doherty wanted to do something for the students," he said. "This will give him the chance to stand in front of the students and be heard."

Pruitt said Doherty has enjoyed success with similar events as a head coach at Notre Dame University and as an assistant coach at the University of Kansas.

Since "Midnight With Matt" was officially adopted in August, the UNC Department of Athletics has taken over organization of the event, with the CAA sports marketing department providing a student voice in the plans.

The event is modeled after "Midnight Madness" rallies that herald the beginning of basketball season at many college campuses. Jordan said the players will be engaged in the same kinds of events featured at such rallies.

"Fans can expect a dunk line like those at other `Midnight Madness' events, as well as the first official scrimmage of the players," he said.

Contests will include a prize for the most spirited fan, a 3-point shootout vs. Coach Doherty, and possibly a half court shot. Prizes will include tickets for the UNC-N.C. State football game and the Toronto-Philadelphia NBA exhibition game. Fans can register for the contests between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Pit.

According to Jordan, a capacity crowd is being sought to fill Carmichael for the rally. "(Coach Doherty) wants the team to play in front of a packed house, so standing-room-only is our goal."

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