Today is a big day for the UK basketball program as the Cats have the opportunity to get a HUGE win on the road, take a leg up in the SEC race and re-establish their dominance over the Fighting Bruce Pearls from down Knoxville way. For the Cats, tonight finds an opportunity that they will not often see this year….a chance to beat a good team on the road, with a national audience watching on. If you look at Kentucky’s remaining schedule, such “season-defining” win opportunities are really few and far between. The Cats will play at Arkansas and Florida, but neither of those teams has the firepower of the Vols this year. So with the second game of the conference season, the Cats have their best chance to get a significant road win this year. That makes the game a big deal.
It is also a big deal in the continued quest to define just how good this Kentucky team actually is. There are times that I watch the Cats play and I think they are a Top 25 team with a chance to be sneaky and make some noise. Then there are times that I watch and I wonder if the team is an NCAA Tournament team and how the Cats can squander the talents of two bonafide All Americans in such a pain-inducing way. And sometimes I feel both in the same game. Overall I lean towards the former view and believe Kentucky has the ability to surprise people and have a great conference season and a potential at postseason success. But tonight’s game will give us another hint…..the Louisville game showed UK can put together a quality game against a good opponent….Tennessee will tell us if they can do it consistently.
As for the Vols, the Big Orange are not the same team they were last year. Most point to Chris Lofton’s loss and he is important, but I think the loss of the Smith boys may be even more crucial. Ramar and Jajuan (sp?) Smith both hit big shots and gave a degree of patience to a team that all-to-often plays helter skelter and without control. Tyler Smith has proven to be a superb talent, but the Vols have seen other folks not reach their potential. And if you had told me that Scotty Hopson would be sitting during crunch time for most games, I would have told you that you were nuts. But as it is now, he is an afterthough. Similarly, Bobby Maze, who most would have predicted would be a big time bust who could ruin team chemistry, has often carried this team from a leadership standpoint and has exceeded all expectations. Put simply, this Vol team is almost impossible to figure out.
But while the game is thus one of extreme importance and Tennessee comes into the game vulnerable, none of that should take us away from the central fact…..we truly hate Tennessee. On this blog, UT is right there with Louisville as Enemy #1 and for me personally, it is the top choice. Live in a town like Middlesboro, close to the Tennessee border and try to stomach the sight of Orange….it is impossible. Thus for me, games like this are all about bringing back memories of Vol dislikes of the past and creating new memories of Vol players and fans to dislike for the future.
That is why today is a special WE HATE TENNESSEE DAY ON KENTUCKY SPORTS RADIO. Currently this blog has 13 writers that contribute on UK in some form. Today, ALL of them will post something making fun of, blasting, mocking or simply hating on the Tennessse Vols. I must say that I cant wait and the schedule for the postings are below. Every 30 minutes or so, another post comes up, with a common theme: We hate Tennessee.
9:30: HUNTER CAMPBELL
10:15: BRYAN THE INTERN
10:45: MATT JONES
12:45: BOBBY PERRY
1:15: EVAN HILBERT
2:00: TURKEY HUNTER
2:30: ROB GIDEL
3:45: BOMANI JONES
5:45: FAKE GIMEL
Now that is quite a lineup….from a former UK player who will tell you how much he hates the Big Orange to a former ESPN writer who isnt even a UK fan, but hates the Volunteer state to the Turkey Hunter who will surely be mean. Part of the reason I love doing this blog is because we can do things like this…..pure, unadulterated mocking and childish taunting. Jerry Tipton, Rick Bozich and John Clay may do it to each other privately, but it never spills onto the pages. Here we make it a special day. If ever there was a day to hit refresh on Kentucky Sports Radio, it is today. So sit back and enjoy and use the comments on the posts to reflect all your reasons for hating the Vols. And to get us started, a video that sums it all up nicely: