This morning, UK announced that Big Blue Madness will take place at Memorial Coliseum on Friday, November 20. Because of the pandemic, no fans will be allowed in, but the event will be broadcast live on the SEC Network beginning at 9 p.m. with Tom Hart, Jimmy Dykes and Carolyn Peck on the call. According to UK’s press release, it will feature player introductions, practice drills, scrimmages, player spotlights, and a performance by the 24-time national championship cheerleading team.
Those are all the details we have thus far, but the KSR staff batted around some ideas for a virtual Madness in our group text this afternoon. Here’s what we’d like to see.
A Calipari family quarantine skit
John Calipari will have his time in the spotlight, but instead of his usual “state of the program” address, the SEC Network needs to get silly and take us inside the Calipari bubble. Maybe show him practicing his speech on a family Zoom call (that Ellen inevitably has to set up because he doesn’t know how), with his daughters showing no mercy? Maybe a predictable but delightful bit with Ellen about his quarantine beard, or forgetting what day trash day is because days don’t really matter anymore? It’s a shame Cal recently shaved his beard, because a montage of him shaving it, slicking his hair back, donning a suit, and walking into the gym would be priceless. In fact, put a fake beard on him. Let’s do this.
There is probably little chance this will happen, but even if it was lame, it would be more entertaining than hearing Calipari rattle off the number of draft picks Kentucky’s had in the past decade.
Let players show off their personalities
This year more than ever, fans know very little about the team. Not only is Keion Brooks the only returner who played meaningful minutes, because of the pandemic, we’ve had very little chance to get to know the new guys. A virtual Madness is the perfect opportunity. When the event is held at Rupp, some players ham it up and dance during the introductions, but I can’t see that carrying over to an empty gym. It’d be really cool to see short clips of each guy talking about their backgrounds, why they chose to come to Kentucky, etc. UK’s done a little of this with its “door to door” social media series, but with the SEC Network on board, they can ramp it up even more.
Put the spotlight on Rhyne Howard
The women’s team has a chance to be really, really good this year thanks in part to arguably the most talented basketball player on Kentucky’s campus, Rhyne Howard. Howard is pretty reserved, but more than deserves the spotlight, so here’s hoping the SEC Network shines it on her and the rest of the women’s squad. Considering he had brain surgery back in June, Matthew Mitchell needs to take a year off from dancing anyhow.
Shoutouts from former players
The NBA Bubble showcased Kentucky’s budding stars in the league and, according to Jai Lucas, that’s already translating into momentum on the recruiting trail. UK needs to hammer that message home with shoutouts from former players throughout the broadcast. Nothing fancy, just short clips, maybe alongside videos of them dancing at Madness. Any excuse to see the John Wall dance again.
Above all, scrimmage time
Skits, intros, dances, etc. are great, but what we really need to see is this team on the court playing basketball. Just turn the camera on the court for 20-30 full minutes and let them play. Some play-by-play is fine, especially if it includes some KSR references from Tom Hart, but I’d wager most fans are so desperate for basketball they’d be willing to watch it in silence.
What do you want to see at Madness this year?