Liberty men to host 'Blackout' game at midnight Wednesday
March 26, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Many college men's basketball teams kick off their season with "Midnight Madness," enticing fans to come out to support them as they get a jump start on the first day the NCAA allows them to practice.
On Wednesday night, or technically Thursday morning, Liberty University's men's lacrosse team, which rose from No. 8 to No. 6 in Tuesday's MCLA Division II poll, hopes to steal some of the hoopla surrounding "March Madness" by hosting a "Blackout" game against Tennessee Wesleyan, starting at midnight at the Liberty Lacrosse Complex.
It is a free event and an approved late-night activity for Flames fans, also known as LUnatics. Tickets will be issued at the gate that students will need to take back with them for dorm checks.
"It's something a little bit different," Flames head coach Kyle McQuillan said. "We're trying to get students a little more involved and felt doing the game at midnight would pique their interest. As many residential students as we have, we're hoping to get a good turnout Wednesday night."
The game was originally set for March 6, but forecasts for snow forced it to be rescheduled. Sunday's fresh snowfall could have canceled the event, but the turf field was plowed Tuesday and the sun should melt the residual snow by Wednesday.
Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s, but they could drop into the lower 30s by midnight
"Hopefully, it stays above freezing, the cold weather won't keep too many fans away and we'll get a good turnout," McQuillan said, noting hot chocolate will be available at the concession stand. "We want to do a good job of hosting the event so ultimately teams want to be a part of it because of the environment Liberty can create with our student fans."
After opening the season at home against Charleston on Feb. 17, when wind-chill factors dropped into the teens, and traveling to Michigan and Indiana for a wintry spring break, he isn't concerned about his players being affected by the cold.
"Our guys are completely used to it," McQuillan said. "We have no issues. It may be more of a stretch when we start playing games when it's really warm outside."
Tennessee Wesleyan (4-3) should provide a tougher test than the Flames (9-0) had in Saturday's 23-4 rout of Davidson, in only their second home game of the season.
"They've had a decent year with a few good wins and a few tough losses," McQuillan said. "They've always been a team that's been able to scrap and play with the best of them. We're definitely the highest ranked team and one of the toughest they'll play all season."
He likes the fact that Liberty has risen into the top 10 so early in the season, after starting the season at No. 19 for its first-ever top-20 ranking.
"Teams will be gunning for us and circling our games on their schedule," McQuillan said. "We've proven ourselves as a high commodity in the league as far as being one of the heavy hitters. We will have a great opportunity to test our fortitude as we head into the playoffs and challenge for the national championship."
As for the Blackout game, his goal is to energize the student body crowd in support of the Flames, with sufficient scoring to keep them awake and fired up.
"We're hoping everybody has a good time," McQuillan said. "We're going to do some halftime events for prizes and giveaways to encourage them to be in full force. Concessions will be open so, hopefully, we'll keep them warm and entertained."