If you were on Twitter or social media yesterday afternoon, you saw the Big Blue Nation scurrying to find a place to watch last nights basketball game. While the game was televised, not everyone was able to get it and members of the BBN expressed their displeasure. However, if you actually went to the game, you saw pockets of empty seats and a lot of those were in the student section who are supposedly among the most fervent portions of the BBN.
With many empty seats in the upper level student section, tonight’s crowd of 20,305 for Kentucky’s 105-76 win over Texas-Arlington was the smallest in the John Calipari Era.
In fact, it was the smallest UK crowd at a Rupp Arena game since Nov. 24, 2008 when 20,105 saw the Cats play Longwood.
The previous low for the Calipari Era was 21,221 for UK-Samford on December 4, 2012.
Kentucky drew just 21,600 on Sunday night to watch the Cats play Robert Morris. That was the smallest crowd at Rupp since 21,323 saw Kentucky play Lipscomb on Dec. 15, 2012.
To be honest, it’s a head scratcher why the students are not showing up at basketball games. But if you follow some of the main UKAA Twitter accounts, they seem to be almost begging the students to get to the game. Kentucky is not alone in the student disinterest in showing up at games. Seems that even the “Cameron Crazies” have been lacking as well and the players are noticing.
Daniel Carp of the Duke Chronicle led his game report with this: “Not many people saw it, but the Blue Devils put on another offensive clinic in front of the home fans.”
Keeley reported that the crowd was “far more sparse than normally seen in Cameron,” which continues a trend in which student attendance at Duke games has decreased over the last few years.
Even Duke’s star freshman Jabari Parker noticed, saying, “We had to make our own energy today. I know we didn’t have a lot of fans, but we made our own energy.”
We have talked a lot about John Calipari and Montague Gill – Caeser but there is more talent on the roster at Huntington Prep. Gill – Caesar’s team-mate Thomas Bryant. Bryant is a junior power forward and is rated as the 13th best player in the 2015 and 33rd best player in college basketball. Expect Calipari to spend more attention on Bryant as he continues to try to lure Gill – Caeser to the 2014 class.
Bryant — in his first season at Huntington Prep — was arguably the team’s most impressive player during last weekend’s two-game swing through Kentucky. He scored a team-high 16 points in Saturday’s victory in Hazard, then helped the Express get out to a fast start Sunday in Frankfort. In the latter game, he scored seven points — going 5-for-5 on free throws — and drew four fouls in the first 3 minutes of the contest. He finished with 12 points despite playing only a few minutes due to the lopsided score.
Bryant — a 6-foot-10 prospect — came to Huntington this year from his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.
“I knew this would be a perfect opportunity for me to expand my game,” Bryant told the Herald-Leader on Sunday. “Rochester is great, but I felt like I needed to be in better competition and learn more from my coaches to help me in my future.”
Montague Gill – Caesar was in Lexington recently and took in the Northern Kentucky game. He had some kind words to say about Kentucky after.
“What I liked was the fan base and how supportive the fans are of the team and basketball players,” Gill-Caesar said. “That definitely boosts a player’s confidence to know that whether they have a bad game or not, that fan base will be there behind them.
“I also like Coach Cal (John Calipari) and how he handles his players. He tells them what they need to hear.”
Kentucky hasn’t formally offered Gill-Caesar a scholarship, but Fulford said the option is available no matter whether he is a 2014 or 2015 prospect.
“If Teki wants to go to Kentucky, he can go to Kentucky,” Fulford said.
Michigan State, this week’s No. 1 team that knocked off then top-ranked Kentucky last Tuesday night,offered Gill-Caesar last weekend.
Kansas, West Virginia, Memphis, Missouri, Purdue, Baylor, Providence and Alabama have all extended offers for either the 2014 or 2015 class while Illinois and Ohio State have offered for the Class of 2015.