Festive ‘Mizzou Madness,’ outdoors at Columns in Columbia, kicks off Tigers basketball

It was a festive evening of basketball in a setting most special to Missouri Tigers fans as Mizzou Madness — held outdoors at the Columns for the first ime — marked the ceremonial start of the 2022-23 season for the school’s men’s and women’s hoops programs.

Throngs of fans attended the black-and-gold themed event on the MU campus in Columbia, with first-year Missouri men’s coach Dennis Gates and women’s coach Robin Pingeton, who is entering her 13th season at MU, presiding.

The evening included plenty of smoke, music and even a light show — plus some hoops, of course, on a black hardwood court constructed with the Columns as a backdrop — an impressive scene indeed for the assortment of recruits who attended on official visits.

Mizzou coaching legend Norm Stewart was on hand to cheers and helped judge a slam-dunk contest for youngsters on a kid-sized rim.

Point guard Sean East, a newcomer to the men’s team after earning NJCAA player of the year honors last season at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois, won the evening’s three-point shooting contest.

Gates, entering his first season at MU after being hired this spring to succeed Cuonzo Martin, inherits a team of Tigers that went 12-21 (5-13 SEC) in 2021-22. Gates was 50-44 in three seasons at Cleveland State; his final team there went 20-11 and earned an NIT berth last season.

Pingeton’s Mizzou women’s team, meanwhile, is coming off an 18-13 campaign (7-9 SEC) and the second of back-to-back WNIT appearances.

On social media Friday night, response to the school’s first outdoor hoops-kickoff event was overwhelmingly positive.