In a halftime ceremony at UK’s game vs. Mississippi State on Wednesday, members of the team will be given school rings to commemorate the 1996 national championship. Of the 15 players on the team’s roster, 11 – Anderson, Sheppard, Delk, Walker, McCarty, Ron Mercer, Anthony Epps, Wayne Turner, Jared Prickett, Oliver Simmons and Jason Lathrem – plan to be in attendance. Pope, Mohammed, Allen Edwards and Cameron Mills will receive their rings individually.
Ushering in the 2012-13 season with another extravagant show for a sold-out crowd at Rupp Arena, the men’s and women’s basketball teams opened the new year with a special on-court video show, some flashy dance moves and a scrimmage. The highlight – the everlasting memory fans will take from the 2012 edition of Big Blue Madness years from now – was the re-raising of Kentucky’s eight national championship banners.
From Thursday through Saturday, businessmen like Hall, entrepreneurs and everyone in between participated in Coach Cal’s first Fantasy Experience. Organized by ProCamps and ran by UK staff, former college coaches and former Wildcat legends, the weekend was aimed at giving everyday Joes a chance to live the life of a Kentucky basketball player. At the end of the weekend, campers like Hall all agreed on one thing: the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience was a dreamlike experience they’ll never forget.
For a man that’s instituted an open-door policy and welcomed everyone back since taking the head coaching job, this weekend was a formal invitation from Calipari for the players to come home, fortify old bonds and share stories from their heydays.
Sixteen years later, the 1996 national champions are still blowing out opponents. OK, so the competition wasn’t quite what it was in 1996 and the setting was a bit more relaxed, but players from the 1996 national championship showed they’ve still got a little talent in those aging bones and muscles.
John Calipari and the 1996 national champions spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon during the John Caliprai Basketball Fantasy Experience. They talked about working the Fantasy Experience, the upcoming UK Alumni Charity Game on Saturday, being back home, and of course, comparisons to the 2012 team. We’ve got all that below in the video interviews.
Thursday was the opening day of the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience and Kentucky’s practice facility was overrun with some of the best players in the history of the program. In the men’s practice gym, there was Wayne Turner with Nerlens Noel practicing over his shoulder. Over on the women’s court, Derek Anderson was coaching up some of the campers that had paid to be a part of it all. On the Memorial Coliseum floor, Walter McCarty was getting reacquainted with the local media.
After watching his team get outrebounded, “outhustled” and “outworked” in the second half of doubleheader nightcap, a hot and irritated John Calipari said this letdown loss simply came down to toughness. One team (Baylor) had it. The other (Kentucky) didn’t.