Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, it's finally here. Tonight at 10:30 EDT, Big Blue Madness will take center stage. Basketball is never far from the consciousness of the Big Blue faithful, and getting a look at the team early this year is a special treat. Unfortunately, due to the suddenly activist NABC, an organization most of us had never heard of up until 2007 that's been inserting itself into all manner of questions that formerly seemed out of its purview, we may never get the chance at an early Madness again. So let's enjoy it while we can.
Billy Gillispie comes into his second year as Kentucky coach with a much younger roster. Realistically, it can't be said to be "more talented" than last year's squad, but it is certainly much taller, more athletic and possibly more balanced. It will be exciting for all of us to get a look at Darius Miller, Kevin Galloway, DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrellson, and Donald Williams. Matt Pilgrim is also on the squad and I think he will be able to practice with the team, but we won't see him playing this year. I'm not 100% sure he will be able to take the floor at BBM, though.
So what can we expect? Well, not much, really, just the chance to love our team while they fool around a bit on the basketball court. But Big Blue Madness isn't really about evaluating the team -- it is much more like previewing a new car design before it gets introduced to the world and sent to Car and Driver and J.D. Power for testing and evaluation. Although we do try to draw conclusions about how our team may perform in the season judging from what we see in Madness, it really is much more difficult than most people think. Rupp Arena tonight is a showroom, and 'Cat fans are going to get to ooh and aaah over the newly redesigned team that hopefully winds up looking and playing more like a Porsche than a Yugo.
I think everyone believes that we will have a much stronger front line this year, and it will be exciting to see how Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson and Josh Harrellson are doing. I am also anxious to get a look at the new and improved Razor Ramon Harris, who has been all the rage over the summertime. It will be great to see Jodie Meeks out on the hardwood again after such a frustrating season last year. I know we all recall how Meeks came out firing and looked like a worldbeater, only to go down almost immediately with one of the most persistent and intractable injuries I can ever remember other than Sam Bowie's stress fractures.
So while the NABC fumes and gives interviews singling out Kentucky for every perceived slight they can plausibly justify, no matter how trivial, let's embrace the hate and make this a Madness so memorable that Jim Haney's head explodes with a bang loud enough to make Yao Ming dial whatever the Chinese equivalent of 9-1-1 is.
So enjoy your Madness tonight, my fellow brothers and sisters of the Big Blue Nation. Tomorrow, we must rise to do battle with the South Carolina Gamecocks on the gridiron in what could be the defining game of this football, and we can't forget to support our football team during the advent of basketball. We at A Sea of Blue will by typing our fingers to the bone trying to cover both as well as possible, so don't forget to check back early and often, and contribute what you can via FanPost, FanShot and comments. This is the time of year when blogging becomes real work, and we need all the help we can get.