For years, Lute Olson continued the tradition of nearly every college program in the nation by hosting a Midnight Madness event. While fun for the fans -- hey, a chance to see the new team scrimmage and see who can dunk the hardest is always an entertaining evening -- an increasing number of coaches have shied away from the event in recent years.
Why? Coaches do not want to exchange a night of fun and games for two valuable days of practice with the season looming. Sean Miller is among the group who prefers a mid-day scrimmage, and you cannot blame him.
That being said, the Red-Blue Game is a huge event for the Arizona Wildcats. The game, which will be held October 22 at 2 p.m. local time, will have a much larger impact than you may think.
As Greg Hansen wrote in his weekly column, Sean Miller wants to sellout McKale Center for the Red-Blue Game.
Upon returning home, he drove to the Doubletree Hotel and was greeted by an overflow gathering of the Rotary Club of Tucson, whereupon he offered to buy 100 tickets to the group's late-October Tucson Classics Car Show.
But there was a catch.
"You have to buy 100 tickets for the (Oct. 22) Red and Blue Game," Miller told the Rotarians. "It's a good trade."
Here's why it's a good trade: Miller is eager to make what would otherwise be a routine preseason scrimmage, the Red-Blue Game, into something special. That's how he rolls.
"I can't say too much (publicly), but in my time at Arizona, the Red and Blue Game will be part of the most important and biggest weekend we've ever had in recruiting," said Miller.
"We have a lot at stake that weekend, and the environment at McKale is going to be special."
Why is it so important to the program? For one, the current group of assembled players would love to have a full-house for a scrimmage. It gets them excited, it gets the fans excited, and (perhaps most importantly in the grand-scheme of things) it gets future recruits excited.
Current commits Grant Jerrett and Gabe York, two players ranked in the top-50 for 2012, will be at the game. Top-2013 prospect Stephen Domingo will be in attendance, as will Kaleb Tarczewski, who is Arizona's primary remaining target for the class of 2012. And of course there are always other players who find time to visit UA unexpectedly at the last minute.
This year also has special circumstances: a ton of NBA players will likely be at the event. With the end of the lockout nowhere in sight, many former-Wildcats will be in Tucson for the game. That's great exposure for the program, the team, and, once again, the recruits looking at Arizona. There are also rumors of a new-and-improved introduction video that will be debuted featuring many of the former players who have gone onto greatness in the NBA.
If you're a 'Cats fan in Tucson, you better be at the game. Tickets are just $7 and it figures to be an excellent event. Take your kids, your spouse, your friends, and anyone else; the 2011 Red-Blue Game will be special.