We're almost there children. We're almost to college basketball season. The greatest of all seasons culminating in the greatest of all championships, the NCAA tournament in March.
Whether you cared more about Big Blue Madness, Hilltopper Hysteria or UofL's private practice session (tix were $50 per person!) you're no doubt getting hyped up.
I attended Hilltopper Hysteria, as a good WKU alum would. The biggest story surrounding WKU in the offseason was the loss of incoming senior Danny Rumph to a heart attack. There was practically no metion of Danny during Hysteria so they avoided dampening the mood of the crowd. There is a planned event memorializing Rumph before the Georgia game when Danny's former WKU coach Dennis Felton brings his Bulldogs to Diddle Arena.
The night began with the introductions of both the Lady Toppers and Hilltoppers. WKU fans got familiar with new faces like Benson Callier (Florida State transfer) and Orlando Mendez. That was all fine and good, but what everyone goes to these things for is the dunk contest. It was not disappointing. For the third year in a row, Elgrace Wilborn won the dunk contest. This time with a between the legs slam in the final round. We also saw a toss off the shot clock slam, a take off from a step inside the free throw line slam, two double pump reverse slams and a classic windmill. Callier even pulled off the 360 slam during the 15 minute scrimmage.
The three point contest was a team format with a Topper teaming with a Lady Topper. The surprise winner was the team of Mendez and LT Ashley Butler. Mendez is lights out and reminds some Topper fans of another version of current UK guard, and former Hilltopper, "He Who Shall Not Be Named."
The crowd was about 4500 and loud at Diddle Arena.
The crowd was roughly 5 times that at Rupp Arena where UK held their first practice at the off campus facility for the first time and promptly set a practice attendance record. They could have had more in there than the 23,100+ that they had, but they cutoff the tickets. I guess so they could keep it somewhat exclusive.
Speaking of exclusive, UofL put a Rick Pitino spin on Madness by holding the event in a practice gym and charging $50 a ticket to attend. The proceeds went to charity, but Pitino should be applauded for sucking the fun out of a great event for fans. Charging $50 a head pretty much guarantees that average Joe's aren't going to be in attendance, but high dollar donors are. Is it just me or is everything Pitino does just greasy somehow. Even when we gives money to charity it's somehow gross.
But Midnight Madness, Evening Madness, Big Blue Madness, Hilltopper Hysteria, A Romantic Evening with the Cardinals, and all other practices have passed. Teams are working. All three of these teams should be in the NCAA tourney and the state of Kentucky is once again on an upswing in college basketball.