Alumni Charity game a success for charities

By Les Johns

White defeated Blue 121-93 in the Alumni Charity Basketball Game at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The score is relatively irrelevant, but the events were significant for the UK basketball program for these four reasons:

The Charities
The weekend’s events, which included an auction at UK head coach John Calipari’s house Friday, led to donations to charity of $350,000.

Players and coaches distributed checks to charities such as Samaritan’s Feet and the West Liberty Recovery Fund during halftime of the game in front of the Rupp crowd of 10,173.

Former University of Kentucky basketball players return to play in the Alumni Charity Game in Rupp Arena to raise money for different charities on Saturday September 15, 2012 . Photo by Scott Hannigan | staff

DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins led all scorers with 42 points, and scored many in a most unconventional fashion — from behind the 3-point arc.

Cousins shot 18-for-24 from the field, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.

Cousins joked about his range after the game. “I was a little shaky on my first shot, but I kept shooting — that’s what shooters do,” he said. “It’s something in my arsenal — I’m not trying to show too much.”

Cousins said Calipari admitted he had been holding back, but cautioned against thoughts that Drake may be the better coach for allowing him to fire away.

“He can sing a better song, but I don’t know about coaching,” he said.

Fan Interaction
Several former Cats signed autographs and talked with the fans in attendance Saturday, sometimes leading to lines extending through the aisles of Rupp.

Cousins went as far as autographing his massive sneakers and giving them away to children in the crowd after the game.

“It’s always great to come back here,” Cousins said. “Always the same love (from the fans). We had a lot of fun an really enjoyed it. We had a blast and hope everybody else did too.”

Celebration of Tradition
Calipari involved a massive amount of former players and coaches in the alumni weekend, having many of them introduced to the crowd during the game.

Former multi-sport UK star Wah Wah Jones was announced by Calipari as the “Greatest athlete to play at this school.” Jones then took center stage with Anthony Davis as they both displayed their Olympic gold medals.

Most of the members of the 1996 national champions were present and played not only in the alumni game but in an exhibition against players from the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience.

“He has done a great job of bringing everyone together,” said Tony Delk from the ’96 team.

Their participation once again fueled the debate over which UK championship team was the greatest – 1996 or 2012.

When asked which team was better, former Cat John Wall was definitive with his answer, with one caveat.

“2012. But they have to beat the 2010 team first,” Wall said. “We can take them, we can take on any challenge. But the ’96 team can still shoot.”