Women's basketball Head Coach Fred Batchelor addresses crowd at Hawk Hysteria.
Women's basketball Head Coach Fred Batchelor addresses crowd at Hawk Hysteria.

Oct. 15, 2007

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - From the sound of things you might have thought it was a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship game, but you would have been wrong. There were giveaways, competitions, autographs, dance routines, a students versus faculty/staff/alumni game, a volleyball match and new mascot, and then there was practice. Over 4,000 people both young and old turned out for an evening of festivities that marked the beginning of both the men's and women's basketball seasons.

Across the country numerous schools partake in the hoopla that is Midnight Madness. In Princess Anne at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) fans pack the William P. Hytche Center for Hawk Hysteria (formerly known as Midnight Madness).

"I thought it was put together well by our administrative staff and shows how much they care about our students and student-athletes," said women's basketball Head Coach Fred Batchelor.

The evening started with a MEAC conference volleyball match between UMES and Hampton. The hottest team in the conference lived up to their billing with a 3-0 (30-22, 30-22, 30-20) win and extended the third longest winning streak in the nation to 16 games, bringing their record to 18-3 overall and 7-0 in the MEAC.

"It was great to see all the fans out for the event. Being a part of it I think helped a lot more people see how exciting the volleyball team is," said volleyball Head Coach Don Metil. "Hopefully many of them will come back. The event showed the dedication and passion the department has for the students and student-athletes."

Not to be outdone, Harry the Hawk, made his debut, sort of.

To introduce the new mascot a skit was performed in which an old version of Harry came out, danced, and then was called in to the athletic director's office and fired. Immediately following his dismissal the new and improved Harry (all nine feet of him) made his official debut to a roar from the crowd.

"We wanted to do something fun and exciting for the fans. The new Harry is larger than life and the biggest mascot in the MEAC, so we thought it was fitting that he made a grand entrance," said Athletic Director Keith Davidson.

The lights were then turned out and the women's basketball team was introduced.

"With this kind of support we can get a lot done and will hopefully improve upon last season. It will be a fun and entertaining brand of basketball to watch," said Batchelor to the fans.

An inter-squad scrimmage between the maroon and grey followed with both sides showing a lot of promise. The team moved up and down the court well and hopes to benefit from the return of sophomore Tiffany Reid (Philadelphia, Pa./National Christian Academy) who was a medical redshirt last season after having shoulder surgery.

Three starters return from last season's 11-20 team including senior Kristi Veltkamp (Hudsonville, Mich./Lansing Home School), junior Jasmine Speed (Chesterfield, Mich./Anchor Bay H.S.), and sophomore April McBride (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle H.S.).

"I feel that we have a strong recruiting class and have the potential to be one of the top teams in the MEAC this year. We need to work to get better as a team and make sure that we are ready come November 10," said Batchelor.

The Lady Hawks have three weeks to prepare for Morgan State, but first must get ready for an exhibition game against Batchelor's former school Elizabeth City State on November 7.

The men's basketball team capped off the evening with their music-filled introductions and scrimmage.

"With your support it should be a fun and exciting season. We hope to compete in the conference and move our goal forward of improving this program," said men's basketball Head Coach Meredith Smith to the fans.

The scrimmage was a fitting end to the evening as it was decided in the last 30 seconds of the game. Based on the performance, the team should be able to compete in the MEAC and has the potential to surprise a few teams.

The Hawks returns three starters including 2007-08 preseason All-MEAC second team selection Ed Tyson (Baltimore, Md./Walbrook H.S.). Joining him will be fellow returnees Aleksandar Popovic (Novi Sad, Serbia/Weatherford College) and Milutin Mirjacic (Uzice, Serbia/Uzice Economic School/Borac Cacek).

They have three weeks to get ready for a November 9 game against Virginia Commonwealth University who knocked off Duke to reach the sweet 16 last year.

Coach Smith has his work cut out for him, but is dedicated to improving the men's basketball program as a whole and is taking the stance that it is not business as usual to get his point across.

"We need to get things done on and off the court accounting for every detail both academically and athletically and if we do so we can bring respect back to the UMES basketball program," said Smith.