With all eyes focused (as they should have been) recently on the UK football team, the beginning of the basketball season has amazingly slipped a bit under the radar. What was once unthinkable has happened…..basketball season is slipping up on the Kentucky fanbase. And this is the week where the activities will all begin to unfold as UK embarks on the twin features of Media Day and Midnight Madness this Friday. Kentucky Sports Radio will be at both events, giving you all the best coverage of the festivities, including our patented Live Midnight Madness Blog that will give you the insights (both relevant and quirky) on what is going on in Rupp Arena in a way that only Kentucky Sports Radio can produce.
However before we get to Friday, there is a lot to get caught up on with the Kentucky basketball program, most notably the institution of a new tradition in pre-season training “The Billy Clyde Boot Camp.” I first heard about the boot camp a few weeks ago and was told that the guys would be tough, but was really just a way to do the regular pre-season workouts in a unique way. Well it turns out those initial statements were….well, lets say a bit understated. As i was in Lexington this weekend, all talk from those close to the program was about “Boot Camp” and the results it has brought to a team ready for a new era.
The first person to talk about Boot Camp was Razor Ramon Harris (who I interviewed as part of a series of interviews that will be in a new preseason basketball magazine that is being jointly produced by Kentucky Sports Radio) who told me that “Boot Camp is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.” According to Harris, the combination of running drills and weight workouts has completely overhauled the team in all possible ways. “Everyone on the team has lost weight, and I dont think anyone has dropped less than 7-8 pounds,” Harris said. The main feature of Boot Camp is an emphasis on short running sprints that are followed by quick breaks and then repeated. One individual who has been present at these workouts told me that many of the players either barely make it or arent quite able to complete them. “It is the toughest basketball workout I have ever seen,” the individual told me.
Part of what is amazing about this Boot Camp is how it adds to what is an amazingly busy schedule for these young men. While we often only see what happens on the court, the average workload for the UK basketball players is truly unbelievable, once one combines the court time, workouts, class, tutoring and other responsibilities, the normal day for a UK basketball player is jam packed. With the addition of Boot Camp, the past few weeks have been unlike any other for the team. Harris said, “at the end of the day, I collapse in bed. I do know this, no one will be in better shape than we will be this year.” This can be seen in part by our man Mike Williams (BBM to us) who some have suggested may have lost 30-35 pounds since arriving on campus. Last year’s team, thanks to the arrival of Scott Holsopple, was in much better shape than the team from the year before…..but if early indications are correct, this new Billy Clyde bunch may be the most in-shape to grace Kentucky’s courts since the Rock Oliver days at UK.
We will have more on Madness in the next two days, including what visitors will be there and a look at the unknown walk-ons. In addition, Saturday is the White Castle Eating Challenge at the UK-LSU pre-game tailgate. If you are interested in participating (first one to eat 25 wins), please write me at [email protected] IT is always a great event, but we only have room for 10 contestants, so let me hear from you soon.