The event that Kentucky fans look forward to year after year: Big Blue Madness.
Some things were new this time around, like what kind of festivities were planned for the night and, of course, the names on the roster. But, one thing that never changes from season to season – the excitement for Kentucky basketball to start again.
The UK women’s basketball team started off the night. Fans waited to see what type of dance head coach Matthew Mitchell would do this time around.
At first, Mitchell wasn’t going to dance, saying that he decided to retire from dancing at Big Blue Madness. But after some persuading by Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, the head coach whipped and Nae-Nae-ed with the best of them.
Sticking with popular tunes, the ladies finished off their portion of the practice with another dance. Please watch your step because the UK Hoops team was feeling themselves as they all hit the Quan.
A new video introduction of the team projected on the court, combining the tradition of the program with what’s to come.
The players came out one by one to the cheers of the crowd, with a full-court picture of them projected on the floor.
Both head coaches had special guests to introduce them. Marlana VanHoose introduced Coach Mitchell and Coach Cal was ushered to the stage by Drake.
The Canadian rapper sent in a video introduction for his mentor that was also projected onto the court.
“Tonight, we stand in a place of history as we celebrate the beginning of this program’s 113th season,” said Coach Calipari in his address to the Big Blue Nation.
“Eight national titles and the jerseys of 43 Kentucky basketball legends hang in these rafters,” Cal said.
Another banner was added during Big Blue Madness honoring the 2014-15 team’s trip to the Final Four.
But Coach Cal was set to make a point with this year’s address to Big Blue Nation.
“But my goal … our goal … is to help these kids chase their dreams,” Coach Cal said. “They are the reason those national championship banners are up in those rafters. They are the individuals we retire jerseys for. They are the reason why thousands of you camp out for a week each year to celebrate them on this night.”
The Hall of Famer used his address to honor the past and look ahead at what’s to come for the program.
Taking a look back, Cal called off some touted names: Pat Riley, Louis Dampier, Tony Delk, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Willie Cauley-Stein. Those last three attended the event, helping honor the other HOFer, Dampier, with a special plaque.
“Who wants to be next?
“This team wants to be next!”
Big Blue Madness is about celebrating the new season, the new team ready to suit up and wear Kentucky across their chest.
“What does the future hold?” Cal asked. “You’re looking at it right here with this team.”
The Wildcats’ next opponent, other than themselves, is the Ottawa Braves in the first exhibition game of the year on Nov. 2.