Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Madness Tips off Run to March

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Madness Tips off Run to March

Article excerpt

Josh Thompson made Midnight Madness a real family affair. The senior forward for Wagner College drew plenty of national attention at the opening practice a year ago when he dunked over his mother to win a contest among his teammates.

It isn't just the major powers who entertain their fans to open the season. Quite of few of the nearly 350 Division I programs have some sort of showy scrimmage and almost every one includes a dunking contest. Wagner, which is expected to challenge for the Northeast Conference title this season, is no different.

To go that extra little bit that makes every dunking contest different, Thompson jumped over his mother and father on Friday night at Wagner's "Madness before Midnight."

"He didn't know anything about it," Thompson said of including the other parent in his family flyover. "He had his camera and I told him to put it down. He said 'Why can't I take pictures?' and I told he was going to be with my mother and he gave me that smile and said 'All right.'"

Asked why he didn't tell them about being involved in the dunk, Thompson said, "They would have turned right around and headed home."

Thomspon stood his parents, Josh and Diane, back to back at an angle in the key. He took a couple of dribbles, then took off, clearing both before he dunked, just grazing his father with his right leg.

"My dad was excited like a player. He was an athlete himself," the younger Thompson said. "My mom had her eyes closed and she must have asked me five times, 'Did you do it? 'Did you make it?' I told her I made it."

Thompson, however, did not repeat as dunk champion at the Staten Island, N.Y. school. Freshman guard Dwaun Anderson, a transfer from Michigan State, didn't have any family members in the lane. He just soared.

"First of all, Dwaun is an incredible athlete and he is so exciting to watch once he takes off on a dunk," Thompson said. "He did some kind of 360-degree windmill dunk and put the ball between his legs. Just say it was some crazy dunk."

And elsewhere ...

* Connecticut's annual "First Night" was the opening event in the career of coach Kevin Ollie and he was welcomed with a video from Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, who retired recently as coach of the Huskies. …

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