In one of his weekly “it’s the off-season, let’s think of more things to rank” columns, Yahoo! Sports’ Jason King puts Rupp Arena in his top 10 toughest road environments in college basketball:
Rupp Arena, Kentucky — Nicknamed the “Cathedral of Basketball,” Rupp Arena is the largest arena in the United States built specifically for hoops. The venue’s 23,500 seats are often filled by celebrities such as Ashley Judd, which gives Wildcats’ games a “big-time” feel. Kentucky is 460-60 all-time at Rupp Arena, which was built in 1976. Historic and awe-striking as the building may be for fans, it’s not quite as intimidating for opposing players as the aforementioned arenas.
Well, that’s certainly a diplomatic way to put it. Don’t get me wrong: I love Rupp. It is steeped in history and tradition, and for big games, it can be possibly the loudest place on Earth (UK vs. Florida, Tayshaun’s fifth three vs. North Carolina, Rick’s first entrance as a Card). However, for the East Tennessee’s and Winthrop’s of the world, it can be the quietest. In my opinion, there isn’t a way to rectify Rupp’s quiet moments aside from building a new arena. You’ve got to get students around the court and blue hairs in suites or a club level. Achieving that through a renovation of Rupp would be very, very difficult.
Or, we could do what the Dallas Mavericks did this year: shame fans who don’t participate via the jumbotron. I nominate Drew Franklin for the job.
Here’s a story about the Mavericks’ crowd-shaming jumbotron (don’t worry, NPR won’t bite, I swear):