Sure, last night’s UK game was an exciting win for the Cats. There were clean passes, epic dunks, a few great blocks and an altogether FUN night of basketball. Kentucky fans, more than anything, want to win games. But, if you were watching the game from the comfort of your home, you know there were a few great moments from last night’s performance that stood out… other than the basketball itself.
#5 Behind-the-Scenes in the Bahamas
Before and after a few commercial breaks, viewers caught a glimpse of how the players spent their day without basketball on the island. We’ve all seen the awesome boating pictures, but the SEC Network also captured the team splashing around in the water. The Kentucky Basketball twitter account posted their version of the footage:
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 11, 2018
Plus, let’s never, ever, forget these photos of Coach Cal going full Dad-mode with the sunscreen.
#4 The Chemistry
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it a million times: this team is fun. But a major part of that “fun factor” comes from the fact that these guys appear to already really like each other. Sure, it’s still early. But nothing builds chemistry like weeks of early-morning workouts, late nights in the gym and a few shenanigans in the Bahamas, right?
The chemistry on this team is palpable, and that will be a key factor going forward this season. The connection was on full display last night. You could see it in the ease of an assist; you could see it in the way Keldon Johnson’s teammates have his back when he starts trash-talking an opponent. But you could really see it in how the players celebrate one another.
While this may be one of Calipari’s most competitive teams, each and every player is supporting his fellow Wildcats, and it is so refreshing to see. Last night’s victory featured a handful of impressive plays, and each one was followed by an on-court celebration and some serious “hype” from the bench.
Quade Green ?? Keldon Johnson
That was NASTY ? pic.twitter.com/G0NXWHGMIu
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 12, 2018
That chest bump? Amazing.
#3 The announcers praising the BBN
Obviously, Kentucky fans know the BBN is the best fan base in the nation. But for some reason, members of the national media don’t always tend to agree. I know plenty of fans who tune into the radio broadcast while watching the game on television, simply so they can hear “pro-Kentucky” commentators rather than a national announcer. Not tonight.
— Kindsey Gilgeous-Bernhard (@kindseybernhard) August 12, 2018
(Shoutout to KSR’s own Kindsey Bernhard for getting retweeted by both commentators).
While UK fans may be split on Dan Dakich, you have to admit it was great listening to Dakich and Seth Greenberg praising UK fans for their kindness, enthusiasm and overall love of basketball. Throughout the broadcast, Greenberg repeatedly mentioned how pleased he was with the UK fans he interacted with in the Bahamas, while continuously stating “they just love basketball.” He’s got that right.
Plus, how cool was it for John Calipari Fantasy Camp participants to all get a shoutout on the SEC Network? As someone who has covered that camp for the past few seasons, I can attest to the passion with which those men play – and watch – basketball. With Dakich and Greenberg serving as competing coaches, I’m sure this year’s Fantasy Camp was one to remember.
#2 John Calipari commentating from the bleachers
We all remember Cameraman John from four years ago – watching Coach Cal monitor one of the TV cameras in his cargo shorts and polo was definitely one of my favorite moments from the team’s last trip to the Bahamas. But last night, he did something maybe even better. Somehow, someway, Calipari was given a microphone and did a live, in-game interview with the commentators. Throughout their lengthy conversation, Coach Cal pretty much just spoke his mind.
From discussing (sophomore) Nick Richard’s improvements to Brad Calipari’s apparent missed shot opportunity, Cal had plenty to say about this year’s team. He was charming and swaggy and all of the other things the BBN loves about him, but Cal was also brutally honest to Greenberg & Co., but in the best way. At one point, Calipari admitted he had no idea what he was supposed to be talking about – he was too focused on the game to actually listen to the question. It happens.
#1 – Seth Greenberg’s interview with the freshmen
This was, by far, my favorite (non-basketball) part of the evening. For those of you who may have missed it, the SEC Network aired Seth Greenberg’s interview with this year’s freshmen during halftime, and it did not disappoint. Greenberg sat down with Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro and EJ Montgomery to talk expectations, reality-checks and yes, who does the best Coach Cal impression (Immanuel Quickley, if you were wondering).
The interview was semi-informative, but the best part was simply watching the new guys interact, loosen up, have some fun and showcase their individual personalities. Even though it’s still August and “official” basketball is still a few months away, the BBN has had more opportunities this summer to get to know the team than ever before. From behind-the-scenes Instagram videos to prank calling Coach Cal, the Kentucky fan base is already getting to know the people in the blue-and-white – not just their jersey numbers.
Oh, and by the way, Keldon Johnson does a mean Kenny Payne impression.
(If and when this interview makes it onto the SEC Network’s website or YouTube, this post will be updated to include the link).
There’s just one game left in the Bahamas. Will the power go out? Will Coach Cal finally get back to working TV equipment? Can we (please) see another epic chest bump? Can 4 o’clock get here any faster?