The Unveiling: Freshmen uncertain of what to expect

The Men’s basketball team greets fans after its introduction during Big Blue Madness on Oct., 16, 2009 in Rupp Arena. Photo by Ed Matthews

Big Blue Madness is familiar to the players – from a spectator’s perspective.

Players understand the premise of the event plenty well.

But actually being the show is going to be a departure from anything they’ve ever experienced.

For the freshmen, uncertainty about what to expect seemed to be the only thing they seemed certain about.

“I’m not really sure what it’s really like, to be honest,” said Brandon Knight. “I haven’t experienced it yet, but I’m expecting the craziest fans to be there.”

Stacey Poole didn’t attend Big Blue Madness last year, either, and isn’t quite sure what it’s going to be like to have a spotlight on him – with a packed Rupp Arena on the other side.

“I think I had a game last year so I couldn’t come up or watch it, but from what I heard it’s going to be crazy,” Poole said. “I may be a little nervous because this is my first run, coming in. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it, live it up.”

Terrence Jones downplayed the notion that having an arena full of people watching him would make him nervous.

“I just look at it as a practice in front of a lot of people,” Jones said, stripping the spectacle of Madness down to its core. “No reason to be nervous.”

But he did acknowledge the size of the crowd, which is expected to be a capacity attendance of 24,000.

“It is going to be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” Jones said. “I’m just excited for that.”

Perhaps his understated words came from not giving it too much thought.

“We haven’t really talked about it, we just know it’s (Friday),” Jones said. “I don’t even know what the setup is. I’m just ready to play.”

Fans have a chance to see the UK players in Rupp Arena for the first time. But the relationship is reciprocal, and new players get their first taste of the fan base as well.

Freshman Jarrod Polson has watched Madness for years growing up in Kentucky, and he said that “it’s always just fun to watch the new players play.” Now, he is one of them.

Appearing in front of UK fans, as a UK player, is something Doron Lamb values.

“It’s an honor,” Lamb said. “A lot of kids in the world, that’s their dream to be out in Rupp Arena having all those fans looking at them.”

DeAndre Liggins thinks the freshmen don’t know what’s about to hit them when they are unveiled during Big Blue Madness. Not a chance.

“I know how I felt my first time, I know how they’re going to feel,” Liggins said. “They’re going to be exhausted, tired from all the hype. From hyping themselves up.”

While the freshmen don’t really know what to expect, that doesn’t necessarily mean the upperclassmen do, either, due to the changing nature of the event.

“It’s always different every year,” Darius Miller said. “­­I’m waiting to see what it’s going to be like this year.

“I don’t know what to expect, and I don’t think they do either,” Miller said.

While the new players don’t know what’s going to happen at Madness, they know what the event symbolizes.

“This is Kentucky basketball,” Poole said.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @kernelasmith