Rupp Arena crowd can be a very big factor if you have a big rival. I have been involved in some very big games here where I thought the crowd was a tremendous plus for Kentucky.
You don't get that every game. It is tough to get up for certain teams. If the crowd is a little flat for those same games, the players are in turn a little flat. But in fairness to the fans, players have to give them something to get excited about. If you don't, you can't complain if the crowd is flat.
I was in here when we knocked off Florida a few years ago when they were No. 1 and the crowd was great. A few years before that Tennessee had some good games and environment was great. Then I remember Maryland coming in here with Steve Francis and it was a great atmosphere.
Those are games that stand out to me that I have watched. When I played, obviously Louisville, Houston and a guy like Charles Barkley came to town, it was a big game.
I think there may have been more exciting personalities with players back in the day I played that got fans excited. Guys like Barkley and Chuck Person would come in here with maybe a little more personality today outside of a guy like LSU's Glen Davis and would excite the fans. Davis is kind of a throwback like that today for the fans.
I do like what Rupp Arena has done with the E-Rupp-tion Zone for the students. I wish in a lot of ways we could get that type of environment around the whole lower level of Rupp Arena. The E-Rupp-tion Zone has enthusiastic fans that can probably make a difference in a tight game because they are loud and crazy the whole time. In the rest of Rupp Arena, the people are just kind of laid back and waiting on something pretty exciting to happen. But those students are into it the whole time.
Larry Vaught recently asked me if the UK football fans or UK basketball fans were the better fans. That's a tough one to answer. Obviously, I respect the UK basketball crowd and what the fans meant to me over my career. But I think after seeing the fan support in Nashville (for the Music City Bowl) and seeing the fan support for the team when it has gone 2-9 or 3-8, that's strong fan support. I think if you can support your team in tough times like we have had in football, then you deserve the credit for having better fans. But the basketball fans are great, too.
WALKER: Fans can make a difference in Rupp
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