LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- When his new Texas Tech team took the court for its second 10-minute scrimmage early Saturday near the end of Midnight Madness, coach Bob Knight was joined by his grandson.
Braden Knight crawled into the chair next to his famous grandfather. At one point, the two struck a similar pose -- hands clasped in front of their faces and eyes intent on the action.
Knight barked instructions to his players as the youngster occasionally nudged his grandfather playfully.
After a year away from college basketball, Knight coached his Texas Tech team for the first time shortly after 12:01 Saturday, the official start of the season.
He told Texas Tech fans he wanted them to make their presence felt this season.
"We have a chance to make this arena the most special place for college basketball in America," Knight told the crowd. "You fans underestimate what you've got here. To hell with people who don't like West Texas."
The team will reassemble sometime Saturday for its first practice session away from the watchful eyes of spectators or media.
It surely was the most anticipated Midnight Madness event in the country, surpassing Rick Pitino's debut at Louisville and Maryland's celebration of a Final Four appearance.
"It's a new beginning," said Brian Bell, a Texas Tech senior. "The national spotlight is finally on the basketball team. It's Bob Knight. You can't get better than that."
The crowd of about 9,400, some who traveled from as far away as California for "A Sharp Knight in Texas," let Knight and Lady Raiders' coach Marsha Sharp hear their enthusiasm.
The men's and women's teams each played two scrimmages following comments from both coaches.
Knight, who came onto the court about 11:30 p.m. Friday to talk to the crowd at United Spirit Arena, didn't miss an opportunity to comment on officiating in college basketball.
"Now occasionally there'll be an official who makes a bad call," he said, encouraging fans not to get too upset. "Except," he said, "when I stand up and say something, you'll know damn well they're wrong."
The fans went wild.
Two of them were Anne and Bill Humphreys. They flew in from San Diego for the event. Anne Humphreys graduated from Indiana University two years before Knight came to the Bloomington, Ind., campus.
"People there are as crazy about basketball as they are about football in Texas," she said. "I think that's about to change in Lubbock real soon."
The Humphreys have purchased season tickets and joined the Red Raider Club. They plan to watch as many games as they can afford to fly in for.
"If we can't be here, we'll make sure somebody's in our seats," Anne Humphreys said.
Hundreds, some who arrived three hours before the event to ensure getting good seats, braved chilly fall temperatures to line up to get into the event. Eric Thompson was one of them.
"Got Knight?" read the front of Thompson's red T-shirt, a takeoff on the dairy industry's advertising campaign. On the back, "We do," is scripted across an outline of Texas with a star marking Lubbock's location in West Texas.
"He's very successful, charismatic and has a unique personality," said the 18-year-old freshman from Albuquerque, N.M. "I've always thought he was kind of an interesting guy."
Knight also came onto the floor earlier in the evening, bringing Braden with him to watch several dachshunds dash across the floor in a race. The youngster, who soon will turn 3, is the son of Tim Knight, who is Knight's son.
At least 12,000 season tickets have been sold for Texas Tech's home games. The school averaged 9,557 fans last season at its 15,050-seat arena. Knight said he wants opposing players to leave with the memory of the Texas Tech fans.
"Let them go home and say. 'I've never played in any place like this. I wish we had fans like that,"' Knight said.
Knight was fired by Indiana in September 2000, after violating a zero-tolerance behavior policy. But he has been welcomed warmly in this West Texas town of about 200,000, where fans were unhappy about four straight losing seasons under former coach James Dickey.
The team's last trip to the NCAA tournament was in 1996. Knight has had one losing season in 35 years of coaching, 29 at Indiana.
"I'm tired of seeing Tech have a weak basketball team," Bell said. "He'll get us back into the Big Dance at the end of the year."
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