April 1st may just be a day for pulling pranks to some, but in the history of Kentucky basketball there have been some pretty big happenings on the first day of the fourth month. In fact, April 1st has given the Big Blue Nation two of its most memorable days of the past two decades, so on this April Fools’ Day let’s look back to two of the April 1’s that were:
April 1st, 1996
On this day 16 years ago, Kentucky officially got all the way back to the top of college basketball after an ugly scandal and 18 years without a national title. The ’96 Cats are in the conversation as one of the best college basketball teams ever assembled, and rolled past Syracuse on this day in 1996 to claim the school’s 6th national championship. Tony Delk finished with 24 points and hit 7 three-pointers to tie a championship game record, while Ron Mercer posted 20 and Derek Anderson and Antoine Walker scored 11 apiece. What were you doing 16 years ago today? You were watching these last two minutes of the Cats’ national title:
April 1st, 2009
A little fresher in our memories, and important in a different way, was the day that Kentucky introduced John Calipari as its next head basketball coach. We all knew the news before April 1st, but it wasn’t until Cal was actually in front of the UK backdrop that it hit us what was about to begin. Since then it’s been a climb to where Kentucky sits now, one win away from a national championship. Three years ago today he said that he wanted to return Kentucky to the top of college basketball, and a little over 24 hours from now he’ll have a chance to do just that. Here’s the first part of Cal’s first press conference as Kentucky’s coach:
Hopefully tomorrow will make its own place in the Big Blue’s storied history.