Saturday’s matchup between Kentucky and Kansas is a marquee game for college basketball, meaning ESPN’s College GameDay will, of course, be in town. And while one group may be worried about the size of the crowd, there’s another that worries about the distraction it creates for the players. Does playing The Game of the Night add too much pressure?
“I don’t think so. They don’t go down there; they don’t see it,” John Calipari said. “I don’t think it does, but it’s great for our fans. It’s great for the people to see…It’s a pretty big deal.”
While the players may not actually see the GameDay set up, they’ll definitely experience what will probably be the best home-game environment Rupp has created all season.
“It’s good to play in front of the home crowd. I think we’re still going to come in with that focus to come and do whatever it takes to win,” Keldon Johnson said. “It’s good to be playing in front of Rupp, in front of the Big Blue Nation, but we’re still going to come with that same focus.”
While Johnson admits he probably gets the most fired-up for games (don’t worry – he listens to music to calm down and “get in the zone”) there’s one player he’s not concerned about: Reid Travis.
“He’s been through it. He’s been through this process a lot, from being at Stanford. He’s played in a lot of big games,” Johnson said of Travis. “It’s him telling us, ‘Stay calm, have the right energy and just go out and perform.”
For the most part, that argument holds up. During Kentucky’s four biggest games (Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Auburn) Travis has averaged 17 points and 6.25 rebounds.
While the players may think they know who stays the most calm (Travis) and who gets the most pumped (Johnson), Calipari sees Saturday’s game as a good way to decide.
“This is one where we’ll learn about each other – who’s amped up, who’s calmed down,” Cal said. “This is the kind of game you do that. So, we’ll see.”
Well, what about the other side of the argument? Will people even show up for GameDay?
“The only thing to be concerned about is the parking to get to the arena – it’s crazy right now,” Calipari said. “Someone says the crowd is ‘late arriving.’ Yeah, they’ve been here for 30 minutes – they can’t get in the building. So, that’s made it tough, but no, I think our fans will come… It’s a big deal and let’s take advantage of it.”
Make your way to Rupp Arena to support the Cats Saturday morning – doors open at 9:00 and the show starts at 11:00.