The theme for Big Blue Madness this year was apparent: Family. It's a simple message that was brought to the faithful of Big Blue Nation in one of the most fantastic ways possible. Players from different eras welcomed the new Wildcats, and to the future, as John Calipari made sure to say, to the family.
It was a powerful video featuring fan favorites welcoming them to the family, and it was a powerful scene as so many former players took the stage to shake the hands of the 2016/2017 team.
Here are the highlights of a memorable night:
- Matthew Mitchell kept his number simple, and I liked it much better. No wigs or costumes, just him and a dance squad cutting their moves in front of thousands. I'm glad coach Mitchell danced even after all of the offseason turmoil.
- I thought the player intros were a little tame as well. De'Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, and Dominique Hawkins were the only ones that really took advantage of the opportunity to dance.
- Coach Cal made sure to remind all of the fans and media that he didn't start this tradition at Kentucky, it was Adolph Rupp. He also took the time to recognize Joe B. Hall, which is nerve a bad idea.
- The Welcome to the Family video featured Rupp, Hall, and Tubby Smith, Not featured: Sutton, Pitino and Billy G. Welp.
- John Wall on the stage was absolutely electric. There was not a cooler guy in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Recruits love them some John Wall.
- Boogie and WCS made it to the stage and had a nice moment with Cal and Wall. Is there a coach in the country that is more beloved by his current and former players than John Calipari. That's a big "No."
- Isaac Humphries looks and moves like a completely different player. I don't remember him attempting many dunks last season, he was jamming them home a lot tonight. I was very interested to hear that Isaiah Briscoe always wanted Humphries on his team during pickup games because of the screens he is able to set.
- Bam Adebayo is a man-child. That is all.
- Sacha Killeya-Jones was the story to me. He looked very comfortable out there, and he has skill that I didn't know he had. He was giving Derek Willis fits on the perimeter while he was on defense. The announcers compared him to Trey Lyles. If that's a true comparison, he won't be around for a sophomore season.
- Don't worry about the shooting. Cal emphasized that he works on shooting in practice every day. He said there are some days when he tells Briscoe to only shoot three pointers and the extra shooting work showed tonight. Malik Monk has a great mid-range game, and De'Aaron Fox has the ability to pop a three every now and then. Derek Willis will do his thing as well. I think the fear is unfounded.
- When Malik Monk was getting ready to tear down the rim and shake the thunder of heaven but backed off, I think Cal was as disappointed as we were that he didn't follow through.
It won't be long before we have real games to analyze. This is going to be a special group. They love playing together, and they have a winning attitude. Coach Cal is going to have a fantastic time with this bunch.