Zack Greer seemed to speak for thousands of weary-eyed fans when he held up his ticket to the first open University of Kentucky men's basketball practice of 2010 and said, "I need to catch up on some sleep."
The excitement of three days of the Big Blue Madness campout seemed to have dwindled Saturday morning as groggy fans stood in two lines that stretched around most of Memorial Coliseum.
A veritable refugee camp of tents around the arena was mostly dismantled by 7 a.m. Saturday, leaving a sea of pizza boxes and coffee cups.
Big Blue Madness is set for Oct. 15 and is the first open practice opportunity for the Kentucky men's and women's basketball teams. It will be televised by the Big Blue Sports Network and Fox Sports South.
UK spokesman Dewayne Peevy said about 15,400 tickets were distributed Saturday morning in person and online.
The ticket camp, a yearly tradition for UK fans, officially began at 7 a.m. Wednesday, but fans said they began pitching tents earlier.
Greer, 20, set up camp at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Harlan County residents Ben Turner, 23, Cheston Caldwell, 18, Clifton Caldwell, 22, and Christa Middleton, 22, began camping out at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, they said.
The Harlan County troupe was on its fourth madness campout. Being among the first to see the new Wildcats in action made the experience worthwhile.
It was also worth it, Clifton Caldwell said, to meet some of the players. Caldwell said he passed a football with UK forward Josh Harrellson, who stopped by to chat with fans. On Friday night, Coach John Calipari and team members brought pizza for the campers. Even though several thousand hungry people had camped out, there was plenty of pizza to go around, Caldwell said.
"They was begging people to take it. There was so much," he said.
Campers were given vouchers and wrist bands Friday and lined up according to numbers on their vouchers.
Lines moved quickly. The ticket windows opened at 7 a.m. and closed exactly one hour later.
Tickets were free and limited to two per fan. This will be the sixth year Big Blue Madness is held at Rupp Arena.