Jen Smith on Basketball

Did the Madness dance land new UK commitment? Mitchell doubts it


Matthew Mitchell deemed it a fruitful Big Blue Madness not because his Cats got an important commitment a few days later from a top post player, but because he managed to get through his annual dance routine.

“I was not booed and I didn’t have anything hurled at me, so that’s always a successful year,” he said of his routine, which transitioned from a segment of him dancing behind the scenes to him dancing in front of the packed Rupp Arena crowd.

“That’s the worst day of my year, that day,” he explained. “We’re not professional and there’s not a lot of preparation that goes in, so anything can happen in front of 25,000 people and we pulled something off again, I still don’t know what it was.”

It was a 45-second dance to “Juju On That Beat,” but it might have been among his most challenging yet in the yearly quest to entertain and not have rotten fruit thrown down from the rafters.

“I was nervous because I just couldn’t get it,” he said on Thursday at Southeastern Conference Media Day in Nashville. “I could not get it.”

He was at Rupp Arena on Thursday night for more than two hours with several members of the UK Dance Team who performed with him.

“Those poor kids did it about 50 times and I finally got it,” he said.

Kentucky also got its girl in Dorie Harrison, a 6-foot-3 post player from Nashville who chose the Cats over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.

Mitchell can’t discuss Harrison, the sister of former Lady Vols star Isabelle Harrison, until signing day, but he said he doubted his regular song and dance routine affected her decision.

“I don’t know that the dancing did it,” he said. “I’d say the dancing probably hurt us more than helped us.”

In general, UK coaches want players to visit on a normal day instead of selling the craziness of Madness.

“We try to make sure they know Madness is nuts and the only value of Madness is it gives you some indication of how people feel about basketball in Kentucky,” he said.