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Excitement around Kentucky Basketball is Finally Back


Kentucky basketball is back. No, not like John Wall dominating North Carolina climbing out of the Billy G shambles, but there’s no doubt there is a new buzz around Kentucky basketball that feels like old times.

It feels like we have entered a new era of Kentucky basketball. Sure, the Cats have still been relevant since that dreadful night in Indianapolis, but Kentucky hasn’t been “it.” It’s evident over the last three seasons. Ulis and Muray were fun, but that run came to a halt in the round of 32. It seems like we didn’t really fall in love with Fox and Monk until February. Last year’s team felt like a chore to watch if we’re being honest with ourselves. Then the Bahamas rolled around this year, and just when you could feel the excitement coming back, it went away in an instant with Duke winning in a landslide on election night.

Don’t mistake me: we’ve also had some great games in that time, a la South Carolina in 2016, De’Aaron Fox tearing up Lonzo Ball in the sweet sixteen in 2017 and the comeback in West Virginia a year ago. Those teams just couldn’t sustain that excitement. But this team is different. This team has brought a buzz to Lexington that hasn’t been here since 2015 (which feels like a lifetime ago), but they’re doing it differently.

When Cal first got to Lexington, it was a spectacle, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. There were rock stars like John Wall, and the program was bringing megastars like LeBron James and Jay-Z into Rupp Arena. It was fresh, and as a kid during that time, it was a sin to miss a game. But, after the loss to Wisconsin, it felt like losses just didn’t hurt as bad, and for me anyway, sometimes watching the Cats just wasn’t a priority. The emotional investment had been taken out of us, and the past three years have been a far cry from the first half of the Cal era.

I had the feeling that landing a rockstar recruit or going on a final four run is what it would take for the joy and excitement to be back in Lexington. But it’s been quite the opposite. If I told you a fan base and program that’s been somewhat reeling since a final four loss four years ago would get energized during the regular season after losing by 40 to one of their most hated opponents, it’d be hard to believe. One would think, well surely they’ve got a once in a generation athlete to excite them, right? No, that’s not the case. It’s a team with comradery, meshing perfectly before our eyes and building momentum to sustain our excitement.

This Kentucky team is three points away from being 19-1. We’ve seen big-time wins over North Carolina and Louisville and just clinched the third consecutive victory over a ranked team – the energy in Lexington is something we haven’t seen in a while, and there’s still more to be done. Kentucky is undoubtedly on the radar for the National Championship, and with two match-ups against Tennessee in February, the Cats have a real chance to solidify themselves as a team well above the rest of the field.

That should give us, the BBN, incentive to get excited like we used to. As someone who has openly criticized the Rupp Arena atmosphere for its lack of enthusiasm throughout the last few years, last night was a glimpse of the Rupp Arena of old, the place that could bring the stars out and could fill the top row 30 minutes before tip-off. It’s the atmosphere it should be and the atmosphere of a fan base that is finally excited again. That atmosphere should be expected; it’s obvious we’re capable.

There are six home games left this year: the Cats will play three more teams currently ranked in the top 25 (LSU, Tennesee, and Auburn), then there’s Senior Day… Only Arkansas is a 9 p.m. tip on a Tuesday night. That’s at least four of the last six games that should demand a great Rupp Arena atmosphere.

If this team hasn’t brought back the excitement to Lexington that’s been missing the last few years, then I don’t know what will. This team is about to do something special, and the big blue nation finally feels re-energized.

Follow me on twitter: @BrentW_KSR

Article written by Brent Wainscott

Twitter: @BrentW_KSR

31 responses to “Excitement around Kentucky Basketball is Finally Back”

  1. Smyrna_Cat

    I thought the excitement had been here for a while?????

  2. 8generationsblue

    The conclusion of the author is premature. I’m a UK fan for life and it doesn’t matter who the coach is or who the players are. But the one and done has worn on many fans despite its success in W’s. The one and done prohibits the fans from really bonding with the players. That is what has created the loss of excitement.

    1. Smyrna_Cat

      Seems there is some truth in this. It has to do with the opportunity to get to know the players a bit better.

    2. ibescootch

      I agree. I love the team, Cal, and the way we recruit, but not having that year-after-year returning group makes it difficult to really connect. Not that we don’t/can’t connect with the university or the team as a collective idea to invest in, but it does make it hard to bond with the players. I don’t think it’s a problem we have to solve necessarily, or maybe even a problem at all, it’s just… different.

      And I think this article is a little click-baity in its assumption of a few points. One, that the BBN lost our mojo or something with the Wisconsin game. It sucked, yes, but 95% of us got up and went to work the next day and life went on. If you’re still emotionally devastated about that game, you have bigger psychological problems than basketball can cure. And two, that this team has done something so magnificent that we’re “finally all back on board”. Umm, no they haven’t really done anything earth-shattering or worthy of more praise than any of Cal’s other recent teams. They’ve been playing great recently, but there are still chinks in the armor, and are a matchup problem away from ending their season on the 2nd weekend of the tournament. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for their potential, but they’re still not out of the woods yet.

    3. runningunnin.454

      Or, people of like mind can cheer for, say…St. John’s; you will get to bond with their players really, really, really well.

    4. unbridled

      Fake news. If you aren’t “bonding” (that’s just a silly notion because you likely will never meet them in person) players….that’s on you not taking the time to follow along throughout the season.

    5. lexcatfan2367

      Amen!

  3. clarks

    Challenge issues to fan base. Let’s will these cats to new levels these last six games

  4. Wade

    I realized last night when we’re in a tough spot Reid Travis and ashton is gonna be the dogs! Keldon and herro are ballers but pj is the leader when he decides to play hard we are unbeatable! With no bench points we beat Kansas! Wow! I know quick ej and nick along with baker can do damage but our 5 are set and I like what cal has put together! Go cats! Back to yelling at the tv with excitement the past month! After duke it took the air out a bit

  5. GoBigBlue03

    I understand what he means and I mostly agree about the Wisconsin game if I understand correctly. As a fan, I was devastated after the Wisconsin game and thinking to myself, we won’t see another team like this, we had all of this talent, Cal won’t win it again. You start to see the talented players going elsewhere, Duke is beating us at our own game and the end of the Cal era is over. But then we were a buzzer beater away from a Final Four and I was excited with Fox, Bam, and Monk before February but that loss hurt. When you lose, it all goes back to the Wisconsin game and start to think, where did we go wrong? Fast forward to this year, the Bahamas made me excited again. Of course Duke happend and then you start to think, it’s deja vu all over again, Dukes beating us at own game. If only Cal would have won it all in 2015 and not Duke, Zion and RJ would be in a KY uniform. But what changed this season is when Green transferred. It open the doors to Hagans and like weight was lifted off the guards shoulders. We’ve beaten UNC, Louisville and Kansas and when PJ plays like he’s supposed to and I’ll repeat what Cal said last night, he’s the best the player in the country. UK goes as far as PJ goes in the tournament. But watching PJ in the last 3 half’s, I hope he’s starting to play ball and not playing according to his competition. With that said, the buzz is back but we will see if it’s Bahamas buzz or “starting to peak” buzz when we play Tennessee.

  6. J. Did

    Loved the signs at CGD. Especially the one that said, “Please talk more about dook”. Best part: J. Wms with the Kan’tsays shirt – and Jay Bias throwing love Mich St’s way….as Purdue handles them easily at home. Jay Bias must have had money on Purdue.

    1. Ridge Runner

      Signs: My fav… Ashton Hagans stole my other sign.

  7. Voice of Reason

    Speak for yourself. Stop with the “we” stuff.

  8. lexcatfan2367

    My excitement never left.

  9. bigblue98

    We need to beat Tennessee and get the one seed in the South. Play regional in Louisville and then anything is possible in Final Four. Hagans can put this team on his back with the defense he plays.

  10. Catsfan1715

    My excitement stays the same every year. My expectations may differ slightly from year to year. Example, last year I was happy we did as well as we did (SEC championship) sweet 16- this year I expect us to make a strong contention for a regional title (maybe a title if we play well enough). And yeah I’ll be disappointed if my expectations aren’t met. But, we are GOOD, every year. And we have a CHANCE every year (to win it). There’s really only a few programs in the country that can say that. During the tubby and billy g era we couldn’t say that and it was deflating, harder to be as enthused. I don’t think any of us have excuses now. The sense of entitlement that we should dominate every year or crazy fans act like we are bottom of the barrel and cal needs to be fired – that’s ridiculous. Tops in every winning category in the ncaa (except for titles) – (t-2nd) and it’s hard to get excited ? I love all our players-even the ones who are only here a year. I follow them at the next level and root for them. Why? Bc they’ve won games for our program and fought to entertain us. They’re kids, and deserve nothing less than that support. I love my program, my team, the players and the coach/coaches. It’ll be a sad day when Cal moves on. Or Kenny.

    1. Ridge Runner

      Nicely put 1715…
      Although I admit the Tubby 02-03 season we won 32 going into the elite 8 game had me thinking we could do this. Chuck Hayes, Bogans, Fitch and ranked #1. But… ehhh

    2. bigbluebanana

      Well said 1715

    3. BigolBlue

      Satisfaction with sweet 16’s? And they dont have a chance every year.

    4. Catsfan1715

      Elite 8s, final 4s…? You don’t like those either do you, troll? With with the exception of losing our best player to injury one year, yeah – every year we have had a chance with the talent we have had.

    5. catsarerunnin

      Well Slater it’s not our fault UL don’t have a chance every year.

    6. dcforuk

      2003 we ran into two things: (1) A bad Keith Bogans ankle and (2) Dwayne Wade

    7. Look Out Fireworks

      Thanks for the input, BigolBlueBalls, maybe you should become a GM!!

  11. JMFATZ47

    The Fox, Bam, Monk team should have won it all. If it weren’t for the Higgins debacle, we had it

  12. Ez21

    My excitement stays the same year after year bc I’m a real fan. I bleed blue and have since I was born. I watch every game and if you don’t sry, but it sounds like to me you are just a fan of winning. Real fans support their team through the bad and the good. The Duke loss was disheartening but I knew the pieces this team had and knew they’d figure it out freshman just don’t play good d right off the bat. See the UCLA game in Rupp as another example. Don’t need writers that question their fandom writing for this site.

    1. michaelb

      Hehehe

  13. bigblue2284

    All the talk of UK arriving is cute lol. They are playing better but continue to have no identity, no guy that can carry them night in and out. There is a reason Bilas had no interest in 94 feet with anyone on this years team. Without a doubt he would have figured out “logistics” if a Wall, Davis or Fox type were on the team.

    1. MrPioneer

      You seem like an individual who has a hard time ever seeing the positive in anything. Over the past few weeks, we haven’t needed anybody to “carry us”, so why should that be a worry? However, we have had multiple guys throughout the season show that they have the ability to carry the team, if need be. Stop being miserable and enjoy the season.

  14. bigblueteach

    Life long fan…excited every year. But, I agree with this article. There’s a difference in being excited because it’s Kentucky ball and being excited that this team has a good shot at getting past the elite 8.
    Walking out of Rupp one night, an older man came out with tears in his eyes. I walked past and saw him another man pat him on the back. The teary eyed 70 year old said, “What a great experience”. That’s Kentucky basketball people. It goes beyond sports.
    Signing off from-Chalybeate, Ky

  15. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

    The curse of the new logo

  16. No more excuses cal

    The team is certainly playing better now. And I hope they continue playing for the program and don’t get to full of themselves and start playing for their own agenda. That’s what in my opinion happened last year cal let certain players use the program for their own agenda and when the bracket fell apart like it did last year he let a golden opportunity for a final four slip away so he got some proving to do to build my confidence in his ability to win a championship but he is certainly on the right path in the last 3 games I guess time will tell