VAUGHT: "Mr. Wildcat" - Cats have firepower

Bill Keightley has been a part of Kentucky basketball for so long that he can still remember the Dollar for Scholar intrasquad scrimmage that coach Adolph Rupp used to have a few weeks into practice each year.

"He waited a week or two into practice after the kinks were worked out and then let people see the fellows play," Keightley said.

He still says that laid the groundwork for the current Big Blue Madness. Keightley was there in 1982 when coach Joe B. Hall had the innovative idea to create a little extra buzz by letting fans attend a midnight practice to start basketball season.

"I am totally amazed by UK fans. The basketball program is big, but the fans make it what it is. The devotion of the fans makes all everyone conscious of working hard. Fans make Kentucky basketball what it is. Kentucky is not number one in wins by accident," Keightley said. "People have driven the coaches and players to limits they may not have attained by themselves. No one wants to let the fans down."

Keightley isn't sure if there will be any special surprises at Friday night's Big Blue Madness or not. He popped out of a huge cake in 2002 when UK was celebrating its 100th season. A year later he rode into Memorial Coliseum in a Delorean with coach Tubby Smith.

"This has grown from a little scrimmage into a huge production," Keightley said.

It's so big now that Big Blue Madness has moved to Rupp Arena and 24,000 fans are expected for the show. "It's going to be hard to beat that atmosphere at Memorial Coliseum. That's difficult to equal anywhere. But times change," Keightley said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the crowd responds."

Keightley thinks the crowd is going to like what it sees. He's not one to make predictions, but he likes what he's seen from this year's team.

"We are an unknown quality at some positions, but I like our kids. We have good kids that want to win," he said. "They all get along well together. I am just looking forward to getting Randolph's situation straightened out, but we have enough firepower to move right along."

Keightley says Randolph Morris is not a problem despite the way he handled putting his name into the NBA draft last summer. "He is a good kid. He is a good student. He's polite. He's not demanding," Keightley said. "I don't know what went wrong. I'm just sorry he got bad information because he is a good kid. He didn't cause any problems last year. He doesn't have an ego like some people seem to think. His teammates like him. He's a classy, pleasant young man and I just hope his situation with the NCAA gets worked out soon."

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