The Team profiles 1996 Kentucky Wildcats champions

Photo Credit: David Coyle

This past year marked the 20th anniversary of the 1995-1996 Kentucky Wildcats winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. What better way to celebrate the anniversary than by watching The Team – The 1996 National Champion Kentucky Wildcats!

The Team is a joint project between Dick Gabriel (Channel 27 WKYT), Jason Epperson (Eppic Films), and Cameron Mills. Mills was a member of The Untouchables.

Nine players from the squad would go on and play in the NBA, including Derek Anderson, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed, Mark Pope, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner, and Antoine Walker. Anthony Epps, Jared Prickett, Jason Lathrem, and Oliver Simmons. The team was coached by Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. Pitino’s assistants that year included Jim O’Brien, Winston Bennett, and Delray Brooks.

The Untouchables are without a doubt one of the greatest teams ever to win the NCAA Tournament. They finished the season with a 34–2 record and went 16–0 in SEC play. The Wildcats only lost two games all year long: Massachusetts and Mississippi State. The Cats scored 86 points in the first half against Louisiana State on the road. It was only two seasons earlier in which the Cats rallied back from 31 down with 15:30 remaining in the game.

The championship team reunited at the end of this past August in Miami to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their NCAA win. What I wouldn’t do to get on the boat and see the reunion in person. I had the opportunity to meet several members of the Untouchables back in December 2012 at one of their autograph reunion signings in Kentucky.

The Team premieres on Sunday night. The broadcast version will be aired on various channels throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia.

  • Lexington: WKYT-TV, 5 p.m. (repeats on WKYT-DT2 CW at 10 p.m.)
  • Louisville: WBKI-TV, 5 p.m.
  • Hazard: WYMT-TV, 5 p.m.
  • Bowling Green: WBKO-TV, 5 p.m. (CST)
  • Huntington, W.Va.: WQCW-TV, 7 p.m.
  • Evansville, Ind.: WEHT-TV, 10:30 p.m. (CST)

One can only wonder just how much footage did not make the director’s cut. Dick Gabriel has spent the past six weeks editing this and based on the video segments made available for the media, I hope the broadcast version and director’s cuts are just as enjoyable to view.

The director’s cut features both extended scenes and the team’s tribute to the late equipment manager Bill Keightley. This will be made available to purchase on at 6pm this Sunday. In the meantime, you can go ahead and pre-order the documentary now.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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