MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Bryan Van Cott sat on a weight room bench thinking about the madness that lied just hours ahead.
A senior swingman who's been at Barry for three years, Van Cott knows what Thursday night is all about -- the night where the Buccaneers basketball party kicks off the season. It's Barry University's version of Midnight Madness.
Welcome to Moonlight Madness.
Barry University men's and women's basketball teams will host Moonlight Madness Thursday beginning with a 9 p.m. tailgate party, featuring free frood, giveaways, music and games in the Landon Student Building/Health & Sports Center courtyard before the activities move into the gym at 10 p.m. That's when the party really gets started.
That's when the basketball madness bringing Barry's fans and the teams together begins.
"The first time we saw the dude without the shirt on, who spraypainted his body in red, I was in shock," VanCott said, recalling his admiration for a Buccaneers fan who, along with some fellow loyal Bucs, displayed his true patronage last season during a home game at HSC.
"That was awesome. If only we had more people like that."
Well, it's not too late. In fact, with a 2012-13 basketball season set to begin a week from Saturday at home against city rival Johnson & Wales, there are plenty of opportunities for the Bucs faithful to display their school spirit and rally behind the basketball teams.
It begins with Moonlight Madness.
"The feeling before you go through the tunnel, the adrenaline gets you going, just like the start of a game," sophomore forward Damien Dwaine said. "It's a good experience. It's stuff you don't forget."
With the XTreme Team Dunk Show, Buccaneers cheer squad, music, contests, group performances and prizes -- and oh yeah, need we mention the free food beforehand again -- Moonlight Madness is what school pride, school spirit for a marquee sport like basketball is all about.
Dwaine enjoys the camaraderie built between the fans, student body and the team, and he wants to see more of it this year. He intends to do his part. For a player who does all the things on the court that don't always draw the attention in a boxscore, but are crucial to winning games, that's just it. That's what this night is all about.
Bridging the gap and creating excitement.
This year, Moonlight Madness carries sentimental value for six Buccaneers men's players in particular because it's their last. With six seniors on this year's team, including two who are at Barry for only the 2012-13 season, you can believe having a party throughout the season is important. That party begins with Thursday night's Moonlight Madness.
"It's a love-hate," Dwaine said. "I love going out there and showing our thing, but we have six seniors who, for them, this is their last go-around. Once we get in the season, it's all business."
That's where having that sixth man from the fan support really comes into play.
"We are going to rely on our fans a lot this year," said Barry's six-year assistant men's hoops coach Ryan Saunders, who also played for the Red and Black for four years. "Hopefully they're going to support us all year. I think we have an exciting team that's going to be fan-friendly and fun to watch.
"Moonlight Madness is a fun event for our students. It's fun for the players, too. I know the players really look forward to it. It gives us a chance to interact with our fans a little bit."
And put on a show.
"Definitely," said VanCott, who admits he has a few surprises up his sleeve.
"Tomorrow is kind of a showcase for our talents and to get people excited for the upcoming season," Van Cott said. "Having a good crowd behind you is like a sixth man. Last year, we won those late games in the last one or two minutes, and having the fans behind us helped us out. It was like the 'It' factor."
Let the Madness begin ...