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A Recap of the Day at the Yum! Center

It was an all-day event for the KSR gang at the Yum! Center on Wednesday as the teams, the arena, the media, and all the other pieces involved prepared for the next four days of college basketball action in Louisville. Here is a late-night rundown of what all went down in Rupp Arena West on open practice/media day:

— I showed up at about 10:00 AM to meet Beisner and Bradley to record fan interviews for Wednesday night’s episode of KSTV. When I first learned we’d be taping the segment, I wondered how in the world we would find fans to interview so early in the morning. I was almost certain we’d end up interviewing parking garage attendants, Yum! employees, and anyone walking by on the street. Instead, I was surprised to find Kentucky fans lined up outside the arena, waiting for the doors to open for the practice sessions. Keep in mind, UK’s practice was at 4:25, so fans were there at least six hours early and there is no telling how long some of them were outside before we got there at 10. I don’t know why I doubted Big Blue Nation.

— Of course, they didn’t have my media credential when I lined up with the Larry Vaughts and the Jeff Goodmans of the world to pick up the pass. This is what is called “The KSR Effect.” It’s never a smooth process; no matter what we’re doing. Rocco, Louisville’s SID (who probably hates me and everything KSR), was helpful in tracking down a nameless badge for me to wear until mine surfaces. It still hasn’t turned up but my guess is Alan Cutler intentionally threw it away as part of the never-ending media initiation process.

— Once inside, it was time to pick out some fans out of the couple hundred already in attendance to talk sports with. We met a wide range of people — from elderly couples to a group of elementary school kids skipping school with their parents — and all were excited to catch a glimpse of the Cats on their first stop on the road to #8. It’s events like these that bring out the most passionate fans, who most likely aren’t able to attend games in Rupp or at the SEC and NCAA tourneys. Their passion, excitement and enthusiasm really showed when we talked to them about the upcoming three weeks for Kentucky. And if their predictions are correct, UK will coast to the Final Four and then beat UNC to win it all.

— The actual action got underway when Colorado State took the court at noon for the first practice session of the day. Matt and Tony Vanetti showed up a little after noon to tape KSTV so we weren’t able to watch the Rams practice. We did, however, catch a glimpse of the Colorado State cheerleaders and I’ll go ahead and say we have a leader in the clubhouse for which squad will steal our attention during the games. Who knew Fort Collins, Colorado had such talent???

— The Cyclones of Iowa State were up next in the practice rotation, featuring former-almost-Wildcat Royce White. White arrived to Louisville from Ames by way of car because of his anxiety disorder and fear of flying. He said he ate honey buns and listened to Adele while he made the 611 mile trip with his grandfather.

— Just an FYI: These so called “practices” are nothing more than the players standing in one spot and shooting jumpers. The only entertaining part about it is when they shoot halfcourt shots for the final two or three minutes of each session.

— If Wednesday’s practice session was any indication, Murray State has to be the worst team in Division I basketball at the halfcourt shot. It took at least 25 tries before any of the players were able to hit one. The crowd erupted when a player (I can’t remember who it was) finally knocked one down.

— While Murray State clanked deep balls off the backboard in its practice, Marquette did the exact opposite. If you take away Buzz Williams’ 20+ missed attempts at the heave, I’d say the Golden Eagles hit about 15% of their shots. They were a fun group to watch, especially Darius Johnson-Odom, who was cutting up the whole time and interacting with the Kentucky fans. I know we’re not supposed to like Marquette in March, but this is a pretty likable group of guys. I will secretly be pulling for them.

— After Marquette’s practice, we joined the rest of the media in the back for John Calipari’s press conference. You can read my notes from the presser here. It wasn’t really anything we haven’t heard from him before.

— Here is an interesting tidbit from inside the life of a media member at the NCAA tournament that I was baffled by… The complimentary soft drinks in the back are served in a clear plastic cup, BUT if you’re taking it to your seat on the court, you have to pour your drink from the clear plastic cup to a red Powerade cup. There are big signs outside of the tunnels reminding everyone of the policy, too. I could understand if you had a drink in a can or whatever, but the clear plastic cups they’re served in aren’t allowed??? Ah, the power of advertising. Moving on…

— The arena looked completely different when we returned to the floor to watch Kentucky’s practice. Thousands of Kentucky fans had shown up in the 30-45 minutes we were in the back and the lower bowl of the Yum! Center was almost at capacity. We estimated about 9,000 people in attendance just to watch Kentucky shoot three-pointers and free throws. You people are crazy.

— The Cats got a great ovation when they took the floor. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like Thursday night.

— The star of Kentucky’s practice was none other than Brad Calipari. He was one of the three guys left in the game of knockout and he was the first to hit a halfcourt shot for Kentucky. On another note, the young Calipari is the same size, if not bigger than Brian Long. Yeah.

— Since UK’s practice was incredibly boring, Matt asked DeWayne Peevy if Cal had plans of getting on the microphone to hype up the crowd. Peevy said he wished he could but the NCAA doesn’t want Calipari and Kentucky having any advantage over the other teams. Basically, they didn’t want it to become a pep rally for UK, which makes perfect sense. However, it wasn’t two minutes later before Calipari walked over to the scorer’s table and grabbed the microphone on his own. He kept the talk simple, thanking everyone for coming out, but it was enough.

— After Kentucky’s practice, Matt and I sat down over a nice meal of pasta and meatballs in the media buffet room with Jeff Goodman. We scarfed down the free food, chatted with Jeff a bit about the Cats, and then decided to call it a day. We’ll be back again Thursday for another long day at Yum!, including Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky at 6:50 in a game that Vegas has the Cats favored by 25 points.

— A reminder, here is the schedule for tomorrow in Louisville:

10:00 AM: KSR Radio Live From Sport and Social Club: The sports bar on 4th Street in Louisville will be the home of the KSR gang, as we preview the game and get you ready for a huge day of action at the Yum Center.

12:15 PM: Murray State vs Colorado State

3:00 PM: UK Alumni Association UK Pre-Game Gathering: The Louisville chapter of the UK Alumni Association is getting ready for the game at O’SHEAS in downtown Louisville beginning at 3 pm. Make sure and stop in and tell them hello.

6:30 PM: KSR LIVE BLOG for UK vs WKU begins

6:50 PM: Kentucky vs Western Kentucky on TBS

9:45 PM: KSR POSTGAME RADIO SHOW from Sport and Social Club: We meet up again after the game to talk about what happened and look ahead to the winner of UCONN and Iowa State.

We’ll see you around.

Get those KSTV Championship Challenge entries in.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

35 responses to “A Recap of the Day at the Yum! Center”

  1. Mark Wilson


  2. Mark Wilson


  3. quest for 8

    Love the comment about Calipari’s son. Love the comment about “media initiation.” great article, seems you had a great day at YUM and the creative juices were flowing

  4. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?

    Already taller than Brian Long? Sign him up.

    Also, I ended up with Marquette in the Final Four, losing to the Cats of course.

    It starts tomorrow, people. In the words of MKG, “It’s time to go to work”.

  5. thanks Drew

    Do they make student tickets available for these games?

  6. Wolverine

    Wow 3. I’m guessing u even loved the pointless paragraph about eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner

  7. Mater

    NEWS FLASH: Obama picked the Tar Heels to win it all. Thank you Mr. President!

  8. SEC Commissioner

    Let’s get this NCAA tournament started. The SEC teams in the NIT are stinkin up the place. UMASS, Illinois ST., Oregon??? We’re not really talking about power conferences.

  9. SpellCheck


    Are there any editor jobs open at CN2 ?

  10. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?

    MKG won’t let us lose. Fouling out with 5 pts and 0 boards in the SEC finals was the best thing that could happen to this team.

  11. Dave Ball

    Dino Gaudio on ESPN just picked his Final Four…hmm…he picked UK and 3 of their regular season opponents..Louisville, Vanderbilt, and UNC…maybe our schedule wasn’t as easy as all of the detractors thought…funny

  12. Ridge Runner

    Great to see BBN out at the practice yesterday. The Marquette-UK Fan interaction surprised me a bit to be honest…but that’s a good thing.

    Today, we begin our journey. As easy as it will be overall, I pray for an injury-free game, hope then bench gets used in it’s entirety late, -but at the same time don’t want to see WKU hanging their heads as they leave the floor. They have had a nice and unexpected run this year based on the level of talent they have. Big Red, BBN see’s ya!

  13. Joe

    What’s the latest on Amile Jefferson? How about Devonta Pollard?

  14. Hop

    Marquette is trying to get on the BBN’s good side because they may have to play Murray if both win. #murrayhomecourtadvantage

  15. Awesometron

    do work, girls…do work.

  16. Justin

    13 – worry about them in 4 weeks. Just focus on the NCAA for now and enjoy the moment.

  17. Ridge Runner

    13 – I too am a bit confused over that question. For one thing, unless it’s a verbal from any kid…what else is there to really update?? But, The reason all of us in blue nation exist is for this time of the year (The Dance, The Title”. The reason you are even mentioning them two are for….”this time of the year”.

    Umm…yeah, as 16 said.. live for this moment.

  18. BG KY Dave

    How old is Brad Calipari?

  19. Ridge Runner

    Big Ky Dave, I think he’s 16 or 17 but not 100pct sure.

  20. trublu

    someone covered up the UK sticker on Bourbon Street with a UC sticker/ someone needs to take care f that before we get back down there….

  21. Jarred

    How bout some pictures of these said cheerleaders? “Pics or it didn’t happen”

  22. MattJonesisTheEricDanielsofUKMedia

    The YUM Center holds about 21,000 doesn’t it? The lower level was almost full at the UK practice, (which holds 15,000?) and there was also fans in the upper level. There was many more then 9,000 at the UK practice.

  23. T'ville Cat

    Here Weego ! (even if that’s a weak beer, it’s a fun commercial)

  24. Mark

    Went to Colorado for vacation last summer and stopped in Fort Collins for the local micro breweries. Fort Collins is known as a hippy town but there were certainly some very attractive ladies.

  25. Picking and Grinning

    Matt was a picking and grinning yesterday like the world was ending. This proves that the previous pic of him was in fact a pick and not a scratch.

  26. Richard
  27. Mike from Paducah

    Drew, were any of the Murray State players on their knees while attempting the half court shots? Probably not and that would explain all the misses! If you will remember two years ago Issah Cannan had the destinction of having the #1 top ten plays of the day on Sports Center for a half court shot from his knees! It was crazy!!

  28. BPM

    F Marquette. I will be cheering hard for whomever they are playing. After the way the Marquette fans acted in 2003 during the game in Minneapolis I wouldn’t piss on a Marquette fan if they were on fire. They made the Bloomington stories from this year seem like Disney World. I saw a couple of idiots dump a drink on an elderly couple who was decked out in UK gear. Truly pathetic.

  29. YO
  30. blueclue

    I love this blog just like I love our team and get so tired of all the critical comments. It’s a Ky sports blog brought to you in the most ridiculous manner. They’re not trying to win Pulitzers here. Get over the spelling, punctuation and and get a sense of humor or go elsewhere. These guys work hard and aren’t charging you a dime. If you can do better, start your own and let BBN go after you. Go Cats, go KSR!

  31. crazycatfan

    How could you not know Ft. Collins had such talent. First of all, Colorado is #1 in “least obesity” states. Also, Ft. Collins has been named “Best City” several times by Money Magazine. I was there last week and stayed at the Hilton, which is just across from the CSU campus, and all the young people (guys & girls) were walking / biking everywhere! All that healthy exercise makes for some beautiful people!

  32. Tim Coker

    Why doesn’t Royce white just drink whiskey and taxe Xanax before flying…thats what I do

  33. Katzilla

    @ 14…You can’t be serious Dude…Marquette could care less who is pulling for them. They will thrash Murray by 15-20 regardless of a good side or not.

  34. Jefe

    Based on this performance and the fact that Brad Calipari is 14, so I expect Billy G to offer him soon.

  35. Bart Cahill

    Wow! I just found the perfect valentine gift!