UK’s history in NYC includes a number of big wins, including this victory in the NIT Championship in 1946, when the NIT was the biggest postseason tournament on the map
As you are reading this, it is very likely that I am with my family, probably looking at Christmas lights in Rockafeller Plaza or getting a classic New York slice at Sbarro (thank you Michael Scott for the recommendation). You see, for the first time since we started this blog over four years ago, I am attending a UK game solely as a fan. My parents, aunt and uncle and I are in New York for the game and I am taking advantage of a chance to see the Cats and root solely with intense passion. When playing the role of “pseudo-journalist”, I have to keep my serious face on, write on the live blog with ferocity and attempt to not openly mock the other media members to their face. It can be very exhausting. But on this trip, it is sheer fanhood…which means a hooded UK sweatshirt and a high five to every person I see in UK blue, whether or not they speak English or are even paying attention.
The trip so far has been exciting and has been full of adventure. I am staying in a hotel in Brooklyn that describes itself as being “hip and eco-friendly”, two words that immediately come to mind when you mention KSR. While Tuesday was spent traversing Ramel Bradley’s old stomping grounds and listening to Mike Francesa on talk radio jabbering about the dominance of “Joseph Patterson in the post for Kentucky”, today is the day that we get ready to see the Cats take on the Huskies in Manhattan. I admit that I am quite excited about going to Madison Square Garden, the last mecca of college basketball outside of Allen Fieldhouse that I have not visited (the others are of course Rupp Arena, Assembly Hall, Dean Dome, Cameron, the Palestra and Pauley Pavillion). New York City is such an important part of UK’s history, spawning great games in the early days of Rupp and the place where they won multiple NIT titles. The Cats’ trips to the Big Apple truly established Kentucky as the Roman Empire of College Basketball by making it the first dominant and publicized college basketball program in the nation. In those days Kentucky WAS COLLEGE BASKETBALL and they had no rival, and their games in New York were the reason for that emergence. However in recent years, NYC has not been so friendly. Losses in 1991 to Pitt and 2007 to Gardner-Webb prevented trips to the Garden for big games. The Cats took two beat-downs by UCLA and St Johns in 2001 in their last trip to the Garden, and the chances to crown New York City as “Kentucky North” for the day have been far too few in recent years.
But like so many things with Kentucky basketball recently, it is time for a change. Throughout today, I am going to be videotaping part of my trip through Manhattan and the arrival of the Big Blue Nation in the City that Never Sleeps for Coachcal.com. If you dont yet follow our Twitter accout, sign up at this link for updates from the city and the arena. The game tonight should be exciting and is likely to be filled yet again with the mainstream of major college basketball figures. Dick Vitale, Seth Davis, Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Andy Katz and others are expected to be in attendance and the Calipari-Calhoun rivalry never disappoints. Plus there is always the possibility of a random celebrity sighting in New York. The last time I was here, I saw Steven Seagal (who by the way now must weigh 450 pounds) outside a book store and the one Kennedy kid that got charged with rape getting out of a taxi. Where else are you going to get that kind of star power without paying $19.95?
So stick around the site today and get ready for yet another step in Kentucky’s reemergence in the college basketball world. Last week we took down the Defending Champs, tonight we take over the Garden. The Cats are back folks….just like it was 1946 all over again.