Capacity-Filled Crowd At FedExForum Ushers In 2009-10 Campaign
Oct. 16, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Head coach Josh Pastner had been preaching that the Tigers were the city of Memphis' team. Well, at Friday night's Memphis Madness, the Bluff City responded by filling FedExForum to the rafters. The crowd inside reached the arena capacity of 18,400, and hundreds of fans were turned away when FedExForum's management had to close doors so as to adhere to the fire code.
The crowd of 18,400 is the largest ever to witness a Memphis Madness event.
"This is unbelievable," said Pastner, addressing the crowd of 18,400 screaming Tiger fans after the player introductions. "This is your team, and they represent you. As I've said many times before, I'll put our fan base up against any other school's fans in the nation. We have the best fans in the world."
Before the players' introductions, the Madness started off with a Memphis flavor as international rap/hip-hop star and local product Yo Gotti performed at center court wearing a Tiger letter jacket. With the fans at a fever pitch, the scene shifted to the introductions of the 2009-10 Tigers.
Then, the dunk contest took center stage with all eyes on junior college transfer Will Coleman. He didn't disappoint. The 6-foot-9 forward started off with his much-talked-about "kiss-the-rim" dunk, which he threw down for three 10s from the judges. He wrapped up the dunk title with a dunk off a Wesley Witherspoon pass off the backboard.
Memphis Madness had its share of celebrities in FedExForum. In addition to Yo Gotti, the dunk contest judges were former Tiger All-America and NBA All-Star Anfernee "Penny' Hardaway, NBA All-Star and MVP Allen Iverson and two-time NBA Slam Dunk contestant Rudy Gay.
Also in FedExForum were former Tiger and Grizzly Antonio Burks, who received a thunderous applause from the Memphis faithful, new Grizzly Zach Randolph and Detroit Piston rookie Austin Daye.
The evening began with a 30-minute open practice by the Memphis women's basketball team. The team was then introduced to the arena capacity crowd. Head coach Melissa McFerrin addressed the fans following the introduction and promised the city that the women's basketball team would become the class of Conference USA and would return back to postseason glory.
Following McFerrin's address, the team worked on drills for 10 minutes prior to the introductions of the men's team.