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Memphis Basketball to debut Student Madness in 2023-24

Memphis basketball’s heralded preseason extravaganza will return after a one-year absence, but with a little twist.

Memphis Madness, or Student Madness this year, will be a student-only event in 2023-24. It’ll take place at Elma Roane Field House, home to the women’s basketball team, on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

Students will be introduced to both the men’s and women’s teams—coached by Penny Hardaway and Alex Simmons respectively—and watch them participate in various activities such as a dunk contest, three-point shooting contest, skills challenge and more.

As previously mentioned, the event returns after being replaced by a block party on the University of Memphis campus last season. Memphis Madness’ subpar successor received a very low turnout from fans and students alike, and was ultimately a failed experiment.

The Tigers are now conducting another experiment with a student-only version of Memphis Madness, a decision that could be met with some criticism. The event was traditionally held inside FedExForum as a gathering open to the public, usually for a low admission price. Student Madness, however, will still be available to the general public via a free live-stream.

Memphis has been aggressive in its efforts to increase student attendance and involvement since late last season. It first adjusted the rules of its student section at FedExForum by prohibiting student guests from sitting in the lower bowl. It also began reserving rows closest to the court for the university’s fraternities and sororities. Both changes quickly paid off, as Memphis’ student section saw a massive uptick in both attendance and energy in the Tigers’ final three home games of 2022-23.

Turning Memphis Madness into a student-only event seemingly reiterates Memphis’ commitment to student involvement.

Who Will Be at Student Madness?

The event held at FedExForum traditionally featured not just the men and women’s basketball teams, but also various musical guests and local celebrities.

With the switch to a smaller venue in Elma Roane Field House, however, Student Madness will likely put a further emphasis on the players and coaches in 2023-24.

The men’s team is garnering tons of preseason hype on both the local and national level, and rightfully so. Hardaway and his staff recruited one of the nation’s best transfer portal classes—including stars like Caleb Mills (Florida State), David Jones (St. John’s), Jordan Brown (Louisiana), Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama) and Jaykwon Walton (Wichita State). The Tigers also return two players from last season’s AAC Tournament-winning team—Jayden Hardaway and Malcolm Dandridge—and could get even better if they’re able to return All-AAC forward DeAndre Williams, enroll 4-star guard Mikey Williams or do both.

The women’s program is coming off its most successful season in years, achieving both a winning record and postseason appearance for the first time since 2015-16. The Tigers finished last year 22-11 overall and advanced to the third round of the WNIT. Head coach Katrina Merriweather departed for Cincinnati shortly after the season, but Memphis found a fantastic replacement in Simmons, who previously coached Gardner-Webb for five seasons.

The 37-year-old led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a 29-5 record, Big South regular season title, conference tournament title and an NCAA Tournament first round appearance last year. Simmons, who played for Pat Summit at Tennessee from 2004-2009, brings in an extremely heralded roster for 2023-24. This includes a transfer class led by Alasia Smith, also from Gardner-Webb, a freshman class featuring talented guard Ally Hollifield and a plethora of returning pieces like guards Destyne Jackson and All-AAC star Madison Griggs.

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