By Kent Taylor
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Basketball season is almost here. Around 800 UK fans packed into the Grand Ballroom at the Downtown Marriott Wednesday afternoon for the UK basketball tip off luncheon.
The highlight of the event was a 25 minute speech by Cats head coach John Calipari. He is set to begin his third season on the UK bench, and for the third straight year, he landed the nations top recruiting class. "When anybody comes to you and says, 'You can't recruit the best players and win a national title,' don't you look at that person and say, do you hear yourself," Calipari told the crowd. "Do you want us to recruit bad players and then win a national title? So that I can say that I'm a genius. Think about that, we want to recruit the best."
He took some shots from fans when he called the 2010 NBA draft the greatest night in UK history, after 5 Cats were selected in the first round, but offered up this today, "This is a players first program, it is about those young people," Calipari said. " I will be disappointed if we win a national title and no one is drafted, I will be disappointed."
Calipari also weighed in on last weeks dust up about some comments he made about UK's standing in the state. "This is the Commonwealth's team, come on, everybody want to get mad about it, this is the Commonwealth's team"
With Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb returning from the 2011 Final Four team, and the talented freshmen joining, Calipari's expectations are as high as the fan base. "I like this team. Our schedule is ridiculous, as always. All I can tell you, my vision would be that at the end of the year, we'll be one of those teams that's up at bat, slugging it out for the whole thing."
Big Blue Madness is Friday night in Rupp Arena. The Cats first exhibition game is Wednesday, November 2, against Transylvania. The regular season opener is Friday, November 11, against Marist.