Calipari ushers in new season (with player intro video)

Video of all players introductions at Big Blue Madness:

John Calipari reflected on his two years before ushering in the new season in his “State of the Cats” address at Big Blue Madness.

Calipari put on a pitch that seemed as if he was talking directly to the recruits in attendance and promoted the program.

“What an incredible night to celebrate the things that make our program,” Calipari said. “That make the Commonwealth’s team the best program in the country.”

Calipari’s address was reminiscent of his speech from his first season with UK, the one that ushered in a new “players-first” era.

“Two years ago, we had five players drafted in first round,” Calipari said. “Never been done before. And it may never be done again. Unless we do it here, of course.”

Some of those five first-round draft picks, as well as some others, were in attendance and were introduced in front of the crowd. DeMarcus Cousins, Josh Harrellson, Brandon Knight, DeAndre Liggins, Jodie Meeks, Nazr Mohammed, Tayshaun Prince, Rajon Rondo and John Wall all walked onto the stage, and after the event concluded, mingled with the current players.

Also in attendance were some top recruits, and Calipari talked about bringing in not only players with top talent but also high character.

“This program isn’t for everyone,” Calipari said. “Being a Kentucky player isn’t easy. You’re held to a higher standard, both on and off the court. We choose student-athletes who breathe their dream.”

Speaking in front of a backdrop with the words “Kentucky Effect” projected on it, Calipari talked about what it meant.

“That is the Kentucky Effect,” Calipari said. “Pushing and promoting our players. Pushing us to reach their dreams. They will in turn help us to create memories. Help win banners that we all yearn for.”

UK unfurled one of those banners following Calipari’s speech, as the 2011 Final Four banner was dropped to join 13 others in Rupp Arena. Calipari said it was a “symbol of what we’ve accomplished,” and wants to bring another one back next year.

“Tonight I challenge this team, and Big Blue Nation, with this: what’s next?” Calipari said. “Tonight we begin to write the next chapter. Tonight we feel the Kentucky Effect in full force as we once again redefine college basketball. … We do more than move beyond the needle, we are the needle. We are UK.”