Big Blue Madness brings fans excitement for UK basketball


Freshman Tyler Herro wears Rex Chapman’s jersey while competing in the dunk contest during Big Blue Madness on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Kentucky fans young and old gathered at Rupp Arena Friday evening to welcome the 2018-2019 men’s and women’s basketball teams in a little event fans like to call Big Blue Madness.

It’s clear why fans camp out for days to obtain tickets to the event—it’s a performance, athletic event, and what felt like a big Kentucky-themed party all wrapped up into one.

The event started with the women’s basketball team introductions, and senior Kentuckian Maci Morris’ stage presence this year was one for the books. Country music singer Walker Montgomery put his own spin on the famous country song “I’m From the Country” and Morris danced onto the stage to it in cowboy boots. Fitting for a Bell County native.

It wouldn’t be a Big Blue Madness recap if the words “Matthew Mitchell” and “dance” weren’t mentioned together. Year after year Kentucky women’s head basketball coach Mitchell brings out the moves, and this year it was to singer Ciara’s popular dance song/challenge “Level Up.”

Following the women’s basketball scrimmage and team three-point contest, the 23-time national championship-winning Kentucky cheerleading squad came out and hyped up the crowd with an impressive routine and entertained the fans before the men’s basketball team came out.

At men’s basketball media day, Kentucky guard Quade Green said he thought the freshman would end up looking like a “deer in headlights,” and that specifically Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson’s plans would fall apart. Green was in fact very wrong—all three danced in their entrances.

The most memorable entrance was that of senior Jonny David, who brought out the Carlton dance for an entertaining bit.

Quickley put on quite a performance and will live up to his unanimous “best dancer on the team” title, while Nick Richards pleased some fans by bringing out a t-shirt gun.

Then came Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari’s annual speech, which was as enticing as a John Calipari speech can be. Coach Cal ended his speech by introducing the 1948, 1949, and 1951 national championship teams, which included names like Cliff Hagan and Joe B. Hall.

The men’s team started their night with a three-point contest in which Quickly and Herro faced off in the finals. Quickley, who won the McDonald’s All-American three-point contest back in March, defeated Herro 22-21.

An inaugural dunk-contest followed, which made for some of the best moments of the night. Herro wardrobe-changed into a Rex Chapman jersey for a dunk:

Johnson showed up Washington by dunking over two people right after Washington dunked over one:

And Washington’s final dunk was a Green-assisted windmill:

The “scrimmage,” if you will, entertained fans in the sense that there were lots of dunks, lots of impossible-looking assists, and lots of impressive layups.

Although there might not have been a Drake appearance this year, fans were still filled with both nostalgia and excitement for Kentucky basketball. Big Blue Nation will have the chance to watch the Cats in action on Sunday, October 21st at 7 p.m. for the Blue-White game.