Excitement, optimism and expectations for Kentucky football continue to build as summer gradually maneuvers its way toward fall. Even with that basketball is never strays far away from everyone’s minds. A couple of weeks ago, appetites were whet just a tad when Ice Cube and his Big 3 league made a stop at Rupp Arena.
— Rupp Arena (@Rupp_Arena) August 9, 2017
This was a precursor to the UK Legends game which takes place tonight at 7:00 p.m. and is, of course, a precursor to the UK Alumni Charity game at 9:00 which is, of course, a precursor to Big Blue Madness on Friday, October 13.
It will be really cool to see all of the former players come back and play in the Legends game. However, it’s the coaches in the Alumni game that stood out to me.
Dwane Casey and @waltermccarty will be the coaches for the UK Alumni Charity Game.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 21, 2017
Dwane Casey and Walter McCarty’s respective roles and contributions as Kentucky players differed, they shared similar overall team experiences. Casey played a total of 616 minutes in his four seasons at Kentucky. McCarty was a two-time All-SEC player who finished just 54 points shy of joining the 1,000-point club and went on to be selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft.
Yet neither man was a stranger to the expectations of winning at Kentucky. The 1978 team that Casey was a part of was ranked No. 1 for the better part of the season. After an early season setback at the hands of UMass the 1996 squad spent the bulk of their campaign ranked No. 2.
Both men were on title teams that ended long championship droughts. Casey and the ’78 team brought UK its first championship since Adolph Rupp’s last one in 1958. McCarty and the ’96 squad put Kentucky back atop the college basketball world for the first time since Casey and company had done it in 1978.
Casey witnessed arguably one of the greatest individual NCAA title game performance of all time when Jack “Goose” Givens torched Duke for 41 points as he led the Cats to the 94-88 victory. McCarty saw arguably one of the best performances by a freshman in the championship game when Ron Mercer poured in 20 points in the 76-67 win over Syracuse that secured the sixth national championship in program history.
Since 2011 both men have called the NBA’s Atlantic Division home with Casey being the head coach of the Toronto Raptors and McCarty being an assistant with the Boston Celtics. As much fun as everyone on all sides is going to have, just wait and let the game be close in the final minutes and watch how the competitiveness gets ratcheted up. Enjoy the evening, BBN!