Black and Gold Blowout helps men's basketball team build identity

BY IAN MARTIN | OCTOBER 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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The 2012 edition of the Black and Gold Blowout was similar to its predecessors only in its name.

A formerly annual event, last held in 2007, the Blowout consisted typically of a men’s team open scrimmage or practice. The last edition before this year was a free scrimmage held half-an-hour after an Iowa football game, but the Blowout didn’t contribute to any hype for the eventual 13-win, 19-loss, 2007 basketball team.

Last season, Fran McCaffery’s first public showing in his second year as head coach was an open practice for the fans.

This year, though, the showcase returned gloriously and nearly unrecognizable.

“We decided to bring back the Black and Gold Blowout and make it more of an event,” Iowa athletics director of marketing Lisa Pearson said. “More of a production, with a little bit less basketball.”

The teams’ sport was a side note, even though both held light scrimmages at one point. For the men it was more an opportunity to become personal with patrons.

“I think the fans like seeing guys on the lighter side,” senior Eric May said. “Not as serious, have some fun.”

Both the men and women’s teams were introduced to walkout songs of each individual’s choice — tunes ranging from Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah” to Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The players stepped on to a stage one by one, with flames shooting in to the air when their names were announced.

The leaders came in to even more fanfare. McCaffery entered driving a $75,000 Chevrolet Corvette through a fog machine.

The evening also brought back former Iowa greats. Greg Stokes, Roy Marble, Duez Henderson, Adam Haluska, and Luke Recker judged a men’s dunk contest — won by May with help from walk-on Christopher Rickert who headed an alley-oop pass off the backboard.

Iowa did not hold a true Midnight Madness. Instead of the event held at many schools in which teams begin practice exactly at midnight of the first day allowed by the NCAA, it seems the basketball team and marketing department are conscious to hold the Blowout on a home football weekend.

But unlike the past, when it was held before or after a football game, the 2012 edition was deliberately held on a different day from the game.

“The key for this event, in my view, we wanted to make it a standalone event,” McCaffery said. “As opposed to doing it [Saturday] to occupy the fans that are in the parking lot before the football game.”

The crowd of 5,792 on a Friday night for a preseason event impressed one former Hawkeye in particular.

“There’s more people here tonight than there probably were at a few games four years ago,” Recker said. “And that says a lot for an intrasquad scrimmage.”

The crowd also indicated something else. The 2012 Iowa men’s basketball team is a squad fans know, not as just another bunch of guys in the Black and Gold.

“The folks that are here tonight, maybe they’re in town for the football game,” McCaffery said. “[But] they came to this event because they wanted to come to this event. They wanted to see our team.”

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