Wednesday marked the beginning of a truly unique Kentucky ritual: the Big Blue Madness campout. And man, was it fun. It’s nearly impossible to explain the phenomenon to people not from the state; as Kentucky fans, its as part of us as reciting the lineup and the Whitaker Bank Shot. Hundreds of people waited in line Wednesday morning just to cross the road to Memorial Coliseum to camp out for three days for tickets to a practice. Read that again. In any other light, that sounds ridiculous. But, we’re Kentucky fans…it’s just what we do.
This year’s turnout is bigger than ever. As of 4 p.m., there were already 400 tents set up on the grounds around Memorial, surpassing last year’s first day count of 360. In fact, the Madness campers are well on their way to breaking last year’s final tent count of 525. And you know how we are with records. So, if you’re able, get down there and be a part of it. Drive to Wal-Mart and get a tent. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cheap Dora the Explorer pup tent with sparkles…you really don’t want to miss this. If anything, do it for those of us who can’t make it and are resigned to wistfully clicking through the photos and videos online.
Now, onto some news and views. Shall we?
– A few recruiting tidbits:
Yesterday, Memphis “insider” Keith Easterwood said that Alex Poythress will choose Kentucky over Florida, Memphis and Vanderbilt. Poythress has since said on Twitter that he “has not committed anywhere,” so it’s probably wise to take this report with a grain of salt. However, many feel Kentucky is Poythress’ leader, and as we know, if Cal’s going after you, how can you say no?
Mitch McGary will join Poythress and fellow 2012 recruits Shabazz Muhammad, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley, DaJuan Coleman and TJ Warren at Midnight Madness. Hopefully we can put on a nice, entertaining little show for them.
2013 PF Chris Walker will also attend Midnight Madness and announced that he will go public with his college decision on November 15th, the date of his season-opening game. Walker will decide between the Cats, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Florida, Florida State, UConn, Memphis, Baylor and Oklahoma State. UPDATED: According to Adam Zagoria, now Walker wants to “take his time” with the decision, eliminating the Nov. 15th deadline. Ah, to be young…
– Another day, another accolade. Today, John Akers of the Basketball Times named Kentucky the number one team in the nation:
“The consensus is that Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are the equivalent of three of the top five freshmen in the country. Imagine last season if Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Knight were all on the same team with two or three good veteran players.”
Even better? He thinks the Cats are being “undersold.” Rounding out Akers’ preseason top five are North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, and UConn.
– On the football front, Joker Phillips said today that freshman RB Josh Clemons practiced today and is expected to start against LSU on Saturday. Clemons had a hamstring injury following the Florida game and was listed as questionable. His return is promising news for the Cats, yet Clemons and CoShik Williams will have their work cut out for them and more against the Tigers, who boast one of, if not the, best rush defenses in the country.
– The Cats continue to prepare for LSU by piping crowd noise into practice to simulate what the team will face in Tiger Stadium. Mogan Newton said the noise was deafening and working through it all week in practice can only help the team on Saturday. He also agrees with all of us when he says that having a noon game as opposed to a night game is “a blessing.” Drowsy/hungover/tired Tiger fans: advantage Cats. I’ll take it.
– Back to basketball: John “He Gets It” Calipari and company got a head start on the “You people are crazy” campout tour; Cal visited the campers and signed autographs on Wednesday afternoon, and later his players delivered pizza (Papa Johns, natch). Several players also took time out of their day to hang out with the fans, a trend that will intensify over the next 48 hours. As Matt reported below, Anthony Davis and others even fulfilled many fans’ fantasies by playing some pickup with them. One of the many things I love about Cal is the relationship he fosters between the program and the fans. Even from the cold air of my Nashville office, I can feel the love.
More all day, including full coverage of the campout from our very own camper Drew Franklin, who is currently wandering around looking for free wifi and Lunchables. If you thought today was fun, just wait. As always, send in your pics to the site (including me at [email protected]). A few of you already have: