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Kentucky Big Blue Madness 2014: Recap and Twitter Reaction for Wildcats

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 30:  The Kentucky Wildcats mascot performs against the Michigan Wolverines during the midwest regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats have national title aspirations, but Friday night's Big Blue Madness was all about enjoying the arrival of basketball season and entertaining their legions of fans.

If there was any doubt just how big basketball is in the state of Kentucky, every ticket to the event was snatched within the first 30 minutes of availability on Saturday morning. Steve Jones of The Courier-Journal set the stage:

Steve Jones @SteveJones_SU

UK has a huge student section behind one basket, a crazy elaborate stage with 2 big screens and another standing section behind the other

Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio noted that the Wildcats players weren’t the only big names in attendance Friday:

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

Already an electric atmosphere in here...Drake came in with the team and the place is already abuzz

The women’s team was announced first, and Kentucky Athletics provided fans who weren’t in attendance a glimpse at the accompanying video:

Kentucky Athletics @UKAthletics

Check out the @UKHoopCats' intro the Rupp crowd just saw: https://t.co/CGGSmoiBPM

Women’s head coach Matthew Mitchell attempted to steal the spotlight right away when he came out after his team. Writer Jerry Tipton and Alex Forkner of Rivals described the scene as the coach serenaded the crowd with Bruno Mars songs. It was something you only see at Midnight Madness events:

Jerry Tipton @JerryTipton

Mitchell singing and appearing as Bruno Mars.

Jerry Tipton @JerryTipton

He's wearing electric blue jacket, black sunglasses. "Just the way you are...."

Alex Forkner @Alex_Forkner

Say what you want about Matthew Mitchell's entrances, but the man commits.

UK Hoops shared a picture of the entertainment and pointed out that the country took notice:

Kentucky WBB @KentuckyWBB

Here's @UKCoachMitchell channeling his inner Bruno Mars! It. Was. Awesome. #BBM14 http://t.co/XLLBW0C116

Kentucky WBB @KentuckyWBB

And @UKCoachMitchell is trending on Twitter. That's the power of the #BBN. #OURFans #BBM14

While the ceremony and crowd involvement is certainly a worthy aspect of an event like this, the real value lands in the recruiting department. Kentucky basketball always puts on a show, and Friday's Big Blue Madness was no exception.

Kentucky sophomore Aaron Harrison recalled his experience at Big Blue Madness as a recruit, via Steve Jones of The Courier-Journal, "It just gave me the whole idea of how serious Kentucky basketball is, and it was just a great feeling, exciting feeling. Once you witness something like that, there's no way you can not want to play in an atmosphere like that."

Matt Jones and Steve Jones shared some rather interesting developments:

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

UK Basketball Recruits are already tweeting out pictures with Drake backstage: http://t.co/drQPq79pvP

Steve Jones @SteveJones_SU

UK recruits just walked along the court from one end to the other to go to there seats (unintentional, I'm sure, ahem) and got a standing O

Back on the actual floor, Steve Jones and Forkner shared the most interesting moment during the women's scrimmage:

Steve Jones @SteveJones_SU

the UK women's team is short on healthy players, is using a male practice player for its 10th spot on the floor.

Alex Forkner @Alex_Forkner

Students are urging male practice player to shoot. He does and air balls it. This a cruel world we live in.

Then it was time for the main event, as the men's team came out. As to be expected, there was quite the introduction with a video of the program's greatest moments followed by a hype video for this season's squad. 

Forkner described the scene, which was capped off by digital national championship banners hanging from the rafters:

Alex Forkner @Alex_Forkner

Pretty great videos tonight, capped by Aaron Harrison's three vs. Wisconsin synced with a heartbeat. Then the crowd explodes.

Alex Forkner @Alex_Forkner

Screens hanging from the rafters showed waving banners, now highlights of players as they walk out. http://t.co/L4YEwBJ11P

Kentucky Athletics provided fans who were not in attendance a glimpse at the video used:

Kentucky Athletics @UKAthletics

.@KentuckyMBB's intro video. "The story isn't over:" http://t.co/h36U99PGwr #BBM14

After the players were introduced, Drake took the stage and addressed the crowd before introducing Calipari. Matt Jones and Forkner described the proceedings: 

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

Crowd explodes as Drake is introduced

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

"I am honored to be here for what I believe is one of the most exciting years in Kentucky basketball history http://t.co/5jZSm5NLLY

Alex Forkner @Alex_Forkner

Drake said Cal has "some of the best hair I've ever seen in my life. He's like the George Clooney of the hardwood."

Matt Jones @KySportsRadio

Drake is in the layup line with the team http://t.co/VANbzao2MK

After the histrionics, the team hit the floor in a number of three-on-three games. It split the crowd's attention a bit before the five-on-five scrimmage, but the recruits were likely already impressed. The team then transitioned to a five-of-five scrimmage, which let the players demonstrate their incredible ability.

Kentucky Athletics provided some early updates:

Kentucky Athletics @UKAthletics

We're on to five-on-five and Blue leads 9-4. Andrew Harrison has looked good. He already has a 3 and a pair of passes for Marcus Lee dunks.

The game actually came down to the wire, but Alex Poythress put it away with a three-pointer in the final minute. It put the white team up 40-36, and it eventually won the contest 42-36. Jeff Drummond of AllWildcats.com provided one final update:

Jeff Drummond @JDrumUK

Poythress finishes with scrimmage-high 14 points. White beats Blue 42-36. Balanced scoring throughout. Amazing collection of talent.

Honestly, the most important thing of the entire evening was the fact that the team remained healthy throughout the scrimmages.

Now that Big Blue Madness is in the rearview mirror, it's time for Calipari's Wildcats to focus on the upcoming season. If the No. 1 ranking in the initial coaches poll didn't give it away, this is one of the nation's best teams.

The freshmen will clearly play a major role, as they almost always do in Kentucky, as Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis should all see significant minutes. However, this team will have a veteran presence as well since Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Poythress and the Harrison brothers all returned.

Kentucky has so many pieces that it will have more talent on its bench at any given moment during a game than most teams will have on the floor. It truly is national championship or bust this season for Big Blue Nation.

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