Just because we’re done with the Dirty Birds doesn’t mean the fun stops around these parts. With a few hours left in 2011, we’d like to interrupt your celebrations for a little bit of nostalgia. Maybe it’s because we’ve been drinking champagne since 2 p.m., but we’re feeling a smidge sentimental about the past year. From the Final Four to a summer full of NBA stars on campus to the big football win over Tennessee, 2011 was a great year to be a Wildcat fan. Let’s relive the memories before the clock strikes twelve:
Best Win: Kentucky over Tennessee, November 26th, 2011
Sure, there were many, many basketball victories (Ohio State and North Carolina in the tournament, North Carolina again back in December) that thrilled us over the past twelve months, but none more so than the football team’s streak-snapping, field-storming win over Tennessee. On the shoulders of the unlikeliest of heroes, Matt Roark, the Cats exorcised 27 years worth of demons and salvaged an otherwise miserable season. The football program has its problems, yes, but on that glorious Saturday in November, none of them mattered.
Best fashion trend: Jorts
Sure, we’ve all known about Josh Harrellson’s penchant for denim for years, but for those who love a heartwarming basketball story, 2011 really was the Year of the Jorts. With DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton gone to the NBA and Enes in NCAA prison, Josh knew he had to step up for his team to make a postseason run. After an embarrassing Twitter feud with Coach Cal, Josh got his priorities straight, hit the gym, and dedicated himself to becoming a better basketball player. And he did. On the broad shoulders of the country boy from Missouri, the Cats won the SEC Tournament and made a return to the Final Four. Josh’s hard work and dedication to the game even earned him a spot on the New York Knicks’ roster. How long until we see Spike Lee in jorts?
Best story: Kentucky makes the Final Four
Who would have thought that Calipari’s first Final Four as Kentucky’s coach would come with his second team and not the first? After the Cats saw five players drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft, expectations for his next squad were tempered slightly. And rightly so; the 2010-2011 Cats were good, yes, but lacked the flash and style of its predecessor. With Enes Kanter sidelined by the NCAA, it was up to a pair of unlikely heroes (Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins) and a talented freshman point guard (Brandon Knight) to lead the way. Teamwork, tough defense, and heart got the Cats wins over Ohio State and North Carolina, and their first Final Four in thirteen years.
Best block: Anthony Davis over John Henson, Kentucky vs. North Carolina, December 3, 2011
Words can’t do it justice, so here’s a video:
Best ambassador: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Back in April, Randall Cobb was drafted by the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers with the 64th pick. And on his first game in the league, he showed everyone why he could one of the most exciting players in the game one day, returning the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. Cobb is already a fan favorite up in Green Bay, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the Big Blue Nation. Although he left early, Cobb helped put Kentucky football on the map in many ways; a new crop of kids grew up watching him play in the blue and white, and believe me, the coaching staff plays up Cobb’s impact during recruiting. The football program may currently be awash in uncertainty, but every time they mention that Cobb went to Kentucky during an NFL broadcast, it is a small step forward. Keep rocking, Golden Eyes.
Best 15 Seconds of Fame: Megan Dills
After being knocked down by Indiana fans rushing the court after their win over the Cats on December 10th, Playboy model Megan Dills took to Twitter to tell her tale. And, thanks to Larry Vaught, the Big Blue Nation (and the tabloids) heard her story. Megan Dills may have injured her foot in Bloomington, but that’s a small price to pay for 15 seconds of fame. Rock it, girl.
Best dunk: Darius Miller, Kentucky vs. St. John’s, December 1, 2011
Thanks to Anthony Davis, the list of candidates for this category was almost seven feet tall. However, I’m going to give this one to Darius Miller, who had a monster one-hand jam against St. John’s.
We’ll be back in the morning to talk more about the win over Louisville, swap hangover cures, and maybe even bat around a few New Year’s resolutions. Until then, party on and Happy New Year from all of us at Kentucky Sports Radio.