Calipari not so subtle with family-pitch at Big Blue Madness


Former Wildcats Willie Cauley-Stein (left) and Demarcus Cousins (right) join head coach John Calipari on stage during Big Blue Madness on Friday, October 14, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Anthony Crawford

Subtlety is not one of UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari’s specialities and he showed it again this year with address to fans, and more importantly recruits, at Big Blue Madness this year.

There’s always a theme, or slogan, to go along with these annual state of the program addresses and this year’s honored many past players, being labeled everywhere as “Welcome to the Family.”

Unlike in past years, there wasn’t really a drawn out monologue from Calipari. There wasn’t a mic drop. And there wasn’t a video or appearance from Drake. But what Calipari did likely said more words to prospective recruits than he would have had time for himself as he brought over 70 former players on to the stage to show the “Family” that he was talking about.

If the sight of having former national champions from past years and many other players wasn’t impressive enough, a video featuring many former Cats now in the NBA also played on Rupp Arena’s new video board, making as good of a case as any of the success this program has with its players.

Among some of the former players where current NBA All-Stars John Wall and Demarcus Cousins. Calipari “embarrassed” each of them by having them speak to the crowd, but having the two laugh and mess around like long-lost friends behind Calipari while he was talking was another big boost the the family pitch that Calipari was carrying on.

The night, of course, was also about the current players being introduced to the fans and showing what they hope to bring this year in drills and a scrimmage. But like in years past, Calipari used the stage to get his message across as well. And many incoming recruits were sitting front row taking it all in.