Five takeaways from Big Blue Madness 2021


Kentucky guard Kellan Grady (31) dribbles the ball during a practice on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Barkley Truax

“Tonight is the tip-off of a new season,” Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari said.

Basketball is back in the bluegrass for the 2021-22 men’s and women’s hoops season at last.

“What a great evening to bring our basketball family together with you again to honor what makes [Kentucky basketball] the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball,” Calipari to the Big Blue Nation.

After taking a break in 2020 from the annual Big Blue Madness due to the COVID-19 pandemic—Kentucky basketball reintroduced itself to BBN with an entertaining showcase that featured three-point and dunk contests, five-on-five scrimmages and more. 

Here are five takeaways from Big Blue Madness 2021:

The Blue Carpet

Fans got their first up close and personal look at the men’s and women’s basketball teams on the Blue Carpet prior to the on-court festivities. Players and coaches from both squads alike were dressed to the nines, posing in front of cameras as the fans chanted ‘Go Big Blue’ in the background.

Hosted by BBN Tonight’s Maggie Davis, the event grew a massive crowd in the new foyer of Rupp Arena’s back entrance. Kentucky women’s basketball coach Kyra Elzy and men’s basketball players Sahvir Wheeler and Davion Mintz spoke at the event:

Rupp Arena at full capacity—almost

It was announced that ticket sales for BBM sold out in under an hour—not once was the arena filled up. Sure, there was a crowd of at least 15,000 on hand for the showing, but the empty seats were obvious.

This will likely be true for the Blue-White scrimmage next Friday night as well. 

Blair Green

Your 2021 women’s basketball three-point contest champion and the pride of Harlan County—Blair Green.

She knocked off the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, Rhyne Howard in the finals to claim the title. Howard notched 17 first round points compared to Green’s 15. The two duked it out from deep in the final round where Green edged Howard 12-11.

Expect to see Green remain the proverbial dagger thrower for Kyra Elzy’s 2021-22 squad.

John Calipari’s State of the BBN Address

The moral of Coach Calipari’s speech was the fact that they could operate Rupp Arena at full capacity for the first time since the 2019-20 season. 

“Tonight is about your dedication,” Calipari said to the fans. “Your passion and your support of this great program and these incredible young men.”

For the majority of fans, they hadn’t seen their Cats live and in action since the end of the regular season nearly two years ago. BBN came ready and rowdy Friday night.

“As I stand here tonight, I have been reminded how much we missed your energy you provide,” Calipari said. “We truly understand the damage you provide.”

Calipari introduced former players including Darius Miller, Dominique Hawkins, Wayne Turner, jack ‘Goose’ Givens and more. He said that the fans have supported them the same way Calipari knows they’ll support this current team.

“[The fans] create an environment unlike any other for our guys to perform and you support them every step of the way on their journey,” Calipari said.

Kentucky honors Terrence Clarke

During Calipari’s speech, he took a second to honor the life of Terrence Clarke. The former Wildcat died in April earlier this year in a car crash in Los Angeles. 

Clarke’s family was court-side for Friday’s event and received a standing ovation from the fans in attendance. The men’s basketball team presented the Clarke family with custom-made Nike sneakers with Terrence’s face and jersey number on them. After he presentation, Calipari and the family embraced in a heart-felt moment.

“I’m so sorry Terrence couldn’t experience this in person,” Calipari said. “But I know he’s here in spirit tonight.”

Other highlights:

The next time fans can see the men’s basketball team is at their Blue-White scrimmage next Friday, Oct. 22 at Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.