Weekend madness at SIU

By Gus Bode

Basketball teams to showcase sills for public Saturday

While some high-major college basketball programs count down the hours until practice can officially begin – an extravaganza widely known as Midnight Madness – the SIU men’s and women’s teams will do so while the sun is still up.

The Salukis’ official kickoff to practice, which they dubbed Mid-day Madness, opens to the public at 1 p.m. on Saturday and runs for about two hours.


The women’s team could use the action-packed day to announce its success thus far – a 3-0 sweep on a Canadian basketball tour. Instead, they will take a business-like approach.

With all the excitement surrounding Mid-day Madness, women’s head coach Dana Eikenberg said she is more enthused about the team practice that precedes it.

“Mid-day Madness is an opportunity for others to get a peek,” Eikenberg said. “But I’m focused on the four hours of practice that morning.”

“We’ll be going hard and intense prior to what the public will see.”

The women’s team is slated for three hours of practice before the free public showcase begins at the SIU Arena. Eikenberg said by the time the madness begins, energy levels might be slightly depleted. But that doesn’t mean fans in attendance will be bored by any means.

SIU marketing director Mike Trude said the women’s three-point competition will open the event, and the winner of that will face the winner of the men’s long-ball showdown. The crowd-pleasing dunk contest will follow before a women’s and men’s scrimmage concludes the event.

Trude said he wasn’t sure what to expect attendance-wise, seeing as there is also a home volleyball game at 3 p.m. and pre-game tailgating for the football game that kicks off at 6 p.m.


“People will have to pick and choose what to see,” Trude said. “But those die-hards who eat and sleep Saluki basketball will come out.”

With so much going on, the weekend serves as an ideal time for Eikenberg and men’s head coach Chris Lowery to draw potential players into their systems. Assistant athletic director and compliance director Christian Spears said recruits will have a hefty itinerary. An Athletic Department recruiting weekend, which includes a luncheon, is planned for athletes of all sports to soak up the atmosphere.

“It’s a nice tradition, going from basketball’s Mid-day Madness to the recruiting weekend to the barbeque to the football game,” Spears said. “It’s a special day to attend the event. You won’t have that experience anywhere else. That’s what makes us unique.”

Trude said SIU hasn’t ever had a pre-season event of this caliber at the Arena. And having the event on a Saturday, Eikenberg said, may grab more people’s attention because it could be a primer for the football game.

“When you tie it in with football, it makes for a great weekend,” Eikenberg said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to come out.”

Reporter Jordan Wilson can be reached at [email protected]