Another Big Blue Madness is in the books, folks. John Calipari addressed the faithful in his annual Big Blue State of the Union Address. I thought he was more straight forward with his comments than he has ever been.
Here is a quick recap of the show with my thoughts thrown in:
- This felt like a more stripped-down version of BBM and Matthew Mitchell's dance number set the tone for that. We are used to the women's coach putting on a big production, but he opted for a Whip dance number with a couple of local kids, the dance team, and his players. Simple but effective.
- The trio of SEC Network announcers did a fine job, but much of BBN was annoyed at how much they talked during some of the video segments that were being broadcast at Rupp Arena. Yeah, they were a little chatty but I thought they did a fine job of filling in space.
- The unveiling of the Final Four banner stung a little. Or was that just me?
- The player introductions followed the strip-down theme as there wasn't much dancing or fanfare involved. Each year it seems that the intros lose a little bit of their pizazz. Dominique Hawkins was really the only player to get down and boogie for the crowd. His trademark smile and enthusiasm really got the crowd going. The BBN loves them some Hawkins.
- That Drake introduction was the worst thing I have ever seen at BBM and I don't want to ever speak of it again. It's dead to me.
- Cal's speech was short and to the point. He talked about the importance of the fans but emphasized that all of it was for the players, which has been his battle cry since day one. He pointed over to his current team multiple times, signaling that they were the next group to realize their dreams for themselves, the fans, and the university. The more the players succeed, the more everyone involves succeeds.
- He referred to Kentucky as the gold standard in college basketball. Hard to argue four Final Fours and a national title in six years.
- He ended by asking the question"Who's Next?" He even went as far as asking if some people in the building were next, clearly targeting the multiple recruits visiting in the building.
- Isaiah Briscoe's short shorts were amazing and I hope he continues to wear them all season long.
- Tyler Ulis looked like the best guard on the floor. His shot is still improving and he really looks to get other players involved.
- Ever notice that Ulis and Skal Labisierre are always on the same team, even dating back to the pro combine last Sunday? It's obvious Cal wants these guys working together as much as possible.
- Speaking of Skal, hot damn that guy looks good. He has an extremely fluid outside shot, a defensive presence, and smooth post moves. The announcers said he is eager to learn and asks questions at every practice. Don't screw this up, NCAA.
- Jamal Murray is going to lead the team in scoring. He looks effortless on offense and he has a calm about him no matter what he is doing. The kid is a cool customer and it doesn't look like a big moment is going to bother him in the least. It's like he was born to do this.
- Marcus Lee looks a lot better. He nailed a little jumper, caught some lobs for dunks, and looked active on defense. I am excited to see year three of Lee.
- Alex Poythress doesn't look quite right, but that is to be expected. He is still getting back into the groove of things and mentally he has to build trust in his body.
- A starting five of Ulis, Murray, Skal, Poythress, and Charles Matthews would be extremely athletic and dangerous.
- Cal commented about how Matthews may be the most underrated recruit that he's had at Kentucky. He loves his game and his hustle. Keep your eye on this kid.
- Calipari made an interesting comment about Briscoe. He said that right now he defers too much to Ulis and he doesn't want them playing together because he wants to see Briscoe make plays of his own. He also said that he hasn't played Murray, Ulis, and Briscoe at the same time.
- Calipari also emphasized that he loves his guard play and that gives them a chance to win games. There won't be a better back court in the country than Ulis and Murray. Bank on that.
- Cal reiterated that he will not play every guy. He is looking at a six or seven-man rotation and I think that rotation will fluctuate depending on the opponent and his game plan.
- Seeing Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and Louie Dampier at center-court together was a very cool moment.
Well that about does it. I know it is just a practice and John Calipari continues to say that his team has a long way to go and they need to learn to fight, but as our coach is famous for saying, I like my team.