There was smoke, dancing, some basketball and plenty of celebration inside Rupp Arena in Lexington on Friday night as the University of Kentucky tipped off the start of the college hoops season.
The noise, excitement and electricity were magnified, and for good reason. It's been less than seven months since the Wildcats won the national title in New Orleans. Clearly expectations will be bursting through the ceiling of Rupp Arena in 2012-13, and why not?
Year after year Kentucky's recruiting classes seem to get better and better. From John Wall to Anthony Davis, Wildcats fans have been spoiled in recent seasons.
Kentucky's Big Blue Madness began with a unique look at the school's incredible history.
Although the folks in Kentucky aren't lying when they say they've won eight national championships and boast the best all-time winning percentage, I know some Kansas Jayhawks fans that would feel differently as to which program has the best tradition in college basketball.
Men's basketball coach John Calipari got things started with a crowd-pleasing intro and then announced the names of some former Wildcats who would help re-raise all of the program's championship banners together:
This is about celebrating the start of the season, but we're still going to celebrate the 2012 national championship. We're here to celebrate the tradition of this program. - via ESPN.com
I don't know about how extraordinary Kentucky's college basketball tradition is, but its history of success shouldn't be questioned. Look at all those banners.
Only one program can raise a national championship banner at Midnight Madness each year, but I expect Kentucky will be doing that more than once during the John Calipari era.
UK women's head coach Matt Mitchell practically brought the house down with a "not terrible but nowhere near excellent" impersonation of MC Hammer.
If you thought that was bad, then you probably still haven't recovered from Mitchell's effort to recreate one Michael Jackson's legendary performances at last fall's Big Blue Madness. As terrible a dancer as Mitchell is, he deserves plenty of credit for having the guts to entertain the masses each and every October.
Twitter's Pendleton Vandiver preferred Mitchell's MJ:
Still, we can only hope that Mitchell and the women's team win a national title soon so they can raise a banner rather than treat us to another pre-Halloween nightmare in 2013.
The highlight of the night came during the Blue-White scrimmage when freshman big man Willie Cauley-Stein crushed home a nasty dunk over Nerlens Noel. Check it out.
Both Cauley-Stein and Noel are freshmen, along with Archie Goodwin, the guard who dished out the sick behind-the-back pass to Cauley-Stein. It's safe to say that the future is bright once again for Calipari's men's squad. After all, they have another big-time freshman with a hyphenated last name.
In all seriousness, though, if you thought that dunk was spectacular, just imagine what's going to happen when all these studs are playing on the same team.
It's national championship or bust for Calipari and the Wildcats each and every year from here on out. To hell with experience, there's too much talent to ever lose in Lexington.
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