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The 9 Things You Need to Know from Big Blue Madness

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That’s a wrap on Big Blue Madness 2015. For a myriad of reasons we’ve already discussed, I feel like this year’s event was a little more low-key than usual, but to me, that made it better. Perhaps sensing the fan base was worn out on the hype from years past, UK stuck to the basics, bringing back the coolest Madness feature I remember: the projector screen court. More on that in a minute. Here are my takeaways from a fun night in Rupp.

Matthew Mitchell’s Nae Nae was predictable, but great

It speaks to how little hype there was for Madness this year that no one was talking about what Matthew Mitchell would do for his annual performance. Marlana VanHoose, our favorite, came out on the stage and introduced Mitchell, who said he wasn’t going to dance this year.

“It gets tiring every year, and I’m here to announce my retirement from dancing at Big Blue Madness,” Mitchell said at mid-court. Of course, it was a ruse. Mitch Barnhart came up and told him he wasn’t allowed to retire and to get back to work. As if on cue, two kid dancers came on the court to start the Nae Nae, and Mitchell and some other dancers joined in, along with the rest of the UK Hoops team. It was predictable, but fun:

I’m sorry, Matthew Mitchell dancing will never get old.

They turned the court into a screen again and it was awesome

I get that UK likes to try to do something new every year, but I’m glad they brought back the giant projector to turn the court into a video screen. They used it for both the women’s and men’s intros, and I think it’s the coolest visual I’ve seen in Rupp. The men’s intro video was amazing:

Chills.

They unveiled the 2015 Final Four banner

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…but thankfully, didn’t make a big deal out of it. The banner was outlined in laser-like lights that turned on right before the intro video. No lengthy speech about it, no mentions of The Loss, just a nice moment of appreciation.

Dominique Hawkins’ dance may have been my favorite

Most of the new guys were too timid to dance, but Dominique being Dominque, he busted some moves for the crowd, cast and all. I love him:

EJ’s dance was also great, but I can’t find a video of it.

Drake’s intro for Cal was ridiculous

Drake was NOT in the building tonight, but he recorded two very cool videos for the event. In the first, Drake was sitting in a leather armchair with a glass of wine while sensual music played in the background. At first, I thought this was a spoof of “The Ladies Man.” Drake called Cal a “silver fox” and “the most luxurious coach in college basketball.” It was bizarre and fantastic. The second Drake video played during the team warm-ups, during which Drake famously air-balled a shot last year. Drake vowed to redeem himself in the video with a series of trick shots.

We hope to have those videos up for you soon.

Cal kept his speech short, sweet, and not so subtle

When I heard that Cal’s speech was under 500 words, I laughed. It’s Cal. He can’t order something at Dunkin’ Donuts in 500 words. But, at 505 words, he kept it short and sweet. The 7-minute speech was full of the usual Cal-isms, but was clearly geared towards recruits, seven of which watched court side.

“Kentucky encourages players to chase their genius,” Cal said. “We want them to explore the outer limits of their talents and abilities, and leave us without regrets.”

Anthony Davis was coincidentally walking around the perimeter of the court around this time, allowing Calipari a priceless interlude.

“Hey Anthony, I’m over here giving a speech!”

He closed with this:

“Who wants to be next? This team wants to be next! …And hopefully some other people in this building.”

Subtle, Cal. Subtle.

Cal wasn’t the super swaggy “drop the mic” Cal we saw last season, but he had a cool confidence about him tonight. In fact, his only misstep came at the end of the scrimmage when he took the mic and encouraged fans to attend the NBA exhibition game tomorrow night between the Kings and Pelicans. He was trying to say that the Kings would get UK’s locker room because they have the most Kentucky players, but slipped up and said “KANSAS players” instead. Whoops.

There were a lot of La Familia feelings

Because of said exhibition game, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Willie Cauley-Stein were in the house tonight. (Curiously, no Rajon Rondo that I could see.) All three players had their moment in the spotlight, and before the scrimmage, Boogie and Willie escorted Ellen Calipari to mid-court, where they met Cal, Anthony Davis, and Louie Dampier. Cal and his former players presented Dampier with a plaque commemorating his Hall of Fame induction, a nice touch.

Jamal Murray and Skal look legit

As far as basketball goes, there wasn’t a ton to judge since the scrimmage was only 10 minutes of 3-on-3 followed by 10 minutes of 5-on-5. Most notable were the performances of Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray, who looked to live up to their billing as the best NBA prospects on the roster.

Skal once again showcased the versatility we saw during UK’s Pro Day, throwing down a big dunk, floating in a few mid-range jumpers, and even sinking a few threes. Skal is still so skinny, but his touch is amazing. Meanwhile, Murray is flat out smooth. His perimeter game is outstanding. Murray sank some threes and mid-range jumpers, and with him and Tyler Ulis in the backcourt, UK is in safe hands this season.

Speaking of Ulis, I will never get tired of watching him. He had a few passes that were incredible tonight, including one to Alex Poythress that I can’t wait to see more of this season. Poythress still looks a little tentative on that knee, but he’s not 100% yet, so that’s to be expected. As for the other guys, it was pretty sloppy, but it was just a scrimmage, so let’s cut them some slack.

Tonight got me ready for basketball

Still #AllIn on football, but after spending two hours in Rupp with 24,000 of my closest friends, let’s ball.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

25 Comments for The 9 Things You Need to Know from Big Blue Madness



  1. DesignatedDrinker
    10:32 pm October 16, 2015 Permalink

    Murray is going to be an absolute beast.



    • Megan
      12:29 pm October 17, 2015 Permalink

      He looks unguardable.



  2. Al B. Frank
    10:39 pm October 16, 2015 Permalink

    Great write up. By the way, condolences to Kyle Macy and his family on the passing of Kyle’s mother this past Sunday.



  3. BenHur
    10:56 pm October 16, 2015 Permalink

    1-5 – Ulis, Murray, Matthews, Skal, Lee



    • Bret
      12:36 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      Matthews over Briscoe and Lee over Poythress?



  4. Jordan
    11:04 pm October 16, 2015 Permalink

    Kind of ticked me off that they had their 5 on 5 in a little box the whole time



  5. Awaiting moderation
    11:35 pm October 16, 2015 Permalink

    Won’t lie, Drake was creeping me out. If I was Cal, I’d be worried about waking up in a pitin Drake’s basement with some lotion.



  6. Rupp Arena Janitor
    12:54 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    The Men’s Basketball CATS come back this year with more experience. And along with that experience is another incredible and outstanding recruiting class as they compete for another National Championship Banner and trophy next April. Go Cats!



  7. Jason
    3:23 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    Just noticed Murray changed his number to 24



  8. chimichanga
    3:28 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    The Drake intro video was the highlight of the night.



    • Olivia from Huntington
      10:03 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      You could not be more wrong. It was the cheesiest thing I have ever seen. It looked like it was done by some 8th grader. Everyone around me was groaning about how far we have slipped when this is what Madness has become. This was the worst Madness ever, at least in the 17 years I have been attending. The strange and pathetic energy drop that started with the bizarre rapper video flop sustained itself through the entire actual practice/scrimmages. Mark my words — Harry Giles will NOT be coming to Kentucky. We blew our greatest chance tonight.



    • chimichanga
      10:33 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      If you’ve been going for 17 years, you’re old. So many ignorant haters in these comments.



  9. markw
    8:24 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    while i enjoyed seeing the players, I thought the SEC network announcers should have been quiet during the introductions. They were constantly blabbering about one or two and missed several players. Wasn’t too fond of the 3-3, but saw a lot during the 5-5 scrimmage. Looking forward to a great season.



  10. ReedyCreekBuc
    8:30 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    If you slept in a tent for several days to watch that boring show, you should ask for a refund for the time you wasted in your life. The UK band had more highlights Thursday night in 5 minutes, than that 2 hour snooze fest.



    • Olivia from Huntington
      10:10 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      You, sir, are correct. As with most of what Sandwich Girl writes, she was WAY off in her analysis of this one. Worst. Madness. Ever. The highlight was Coach Mitchell’s dance — which EVERYBODY had been wondering about and talking about, contrary to what this blogger wrote. It was all I heard during the Tent City campout and in the two weeks since. I don’t know where she hides that she can be so unaware of what actual fans are talking about.
      Also, weird that there were many, many empty seats. I have never seen that in my many years of attending. I was also amazed at the number of jerks near me who never lifted their voice or clapped a single time for anyone or anything. Those who were cheering loudly were getting rude stairs. I despise these fairweather bandwagon fans who want to be along for the ride, but don’t want to do their part.



    • Olivia from Huntington
      10:11 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      stares*



  11. Iwanna Ivana
    8:31 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    I’ll say it…Ivana Jakubcova is hot.



  12. SamKat
    8:36 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    It is so nice to have the TV here in Columbus OH and across the nation! Thanks SEC!

    However, I agree with Jordan above. UK Bkb fans want to see the action on the floor rather than listen to and watch opinions. 3 0n 3 and 5 on 5 should be full screen. NONE OF US ARE FAMILIAR ENOUGH WITH THIS YEAR’S TEAM.

    Lighting was less than professional this year with highlights obliterating much. It will require more professionalism in the entire production to make BBM more worthwhile.

    Sorry for the negs, but I love the blue! And definitely NOT to insult SEC TV



    • Troll Hunter
      8:47 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

      ^ Buckeye Troll ^



  13. Swish
    9:24 am October 17, 2015 Permalink

    Since the 2012 championship floor is in the locker room, I think Cal meant to say Kansas players, as a reminder to those Kansas players who we beat in the championship.



  14. Donald
    1:35 pm October 17, 2015 Permalink

    I’m glad Coach Cal and kentucky listens to the fans that matter. Not the old washed up fans. Drake should be made an assistant coach or something but that might break a rule anyways, the drake videos made this maddness one of the best!!! GI CATS!!!



  15. BlueCamo
    5:40 pm October 17, 2015 Permalink

    Tyler,
    Do you know the name of the company who created the introduction video shown on the court? Thanks.



  16. mikeintn
    11:13 pm October 17, 2015 Permalink

    Don’t know why you would think that you would be the fans that matter, all you do is set in your moms basement and bum money for your phone and McDonald’s, while us washed up fans puts money in the school and pays for the roof over your head, oh yes I do know, you’ll twenty and you think you’ll a genius.



  17. Eh
    4:08 am October 18, 2015 Permalink

    I don’t get the whole worst BBM ever thing. It was better than last year by a long shot I thought. The awkward silence could be easily taken care of if they would just play a little light music during the game. Even better would be a dunk contest which might actually be fun and give the crowd something to cheer about. BBM should be more like the night we won the title and less like sitting in church.



  18. Leslie
    9:33 am October 18, 2015 Permalink

    I thought BBM was great this year. Having our NBA players there this year was a great example of what coming to KY can do for your career. I hope the recruits took it all in. I enjoyed Drake last year and this year. It shows to Cals character to have friends like him. I loved it all and i’m excited about our team. I like what I see. Everyone around me was enjoying themselves. Great job for another exciting Big Blue Madness 2015. Go Cats!!!! Bring on #9!!