Cal speaks in UK’s national title tongue
Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011 7:03 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — John Calipari knows what Kentucky fans want to hear, and the Wildcats coach is preaching to the choir with talk of national titles at Big Blue Madness.
Or as Calipari said Friday night, it’s time to turn the page from anticipation to preparation.
Calipari cut through the fireworks, lasers and thumping music when he said his challenge to both his team and the fans is: What is next?
“Tonight we begin to write the next chapter,” Calipari said as he worked the podium. “Tonight we feel the Kentucky effect in full force as we once again redefine college bas-ketball. … We see no plateaus. We see no stopping points. Let’s persist beyond what it is, and let’s try to create what was never before imagined. We do more than move the needle. We are the needle. We are UK.”
Calipari finished by pointing to a new banner unfurled from the rafters at Rupp Arena commemorating their 14th Final Four as a symbol of what Kentucky has accomplished and the standard the Wildcats expect from themselves.
“We are still aiming for the mountaintop,” Calipari said.
This is the seventh time Big Blue Madness has been held at Rupp, and Kentucky opened the doors at 6 p.m. with fans filling seats quickly. Students in the section behind one basket held up a very large banner reading “KENTUCKY BASKETBALL NEVER STOPS” before the festivities started.
Kentucky kicked it off with a video highlighting the hundreds of students who camped out in tents for tickets to attend Big Blue Madness.
As talented freshman Anthony Davis said in the video, “They just want to see us win a championship this year.”
He couldn’t be more right about that.
This is Calipari’s third season at Kentucky, and expectations couldn’t be higher after reaching the Final Four last spring for the first time since 1998. That only scratched the Wildcats’ itch momentarily. Calipari has senior Darius Miller back with Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb along with another highly recruited class of freshmen led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, point guard Marquis Teague, younger brother of Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks, and Davis.
That’s why a few hundred people camped out for the chance to get tickets to Big Blue Madness. Calipari noted they weren’t allowed to line up at Memorial Hall, so they set up across the street.
Anticipation inside Rupp built by the minute with thumping music and flashing lights. First the women’s team came out and scrimmaged. Then there was the free T-shirts, cheerleaders and dancers and it just felt like filler for Calipari and his latest freshmen-laden team.
Published in The Messenger 10.17.11