Every team that Kentucky plays has guys that you really cant stand. Over the past few years, I have often wondered if Billy Donavan just goes to AAU camps, follows me around, decides who agitates me and then offers them a scholarship. However no group of players has burned a collective stamp on my head quite like the guys in the Big Orange. Dating back to the glorious days of Don Devoe, Wade Houston, Kevin O Neill, Jerry Green and Buzz Peterson, the Big Orange have produced a collective array of talent that keeps me reaching into memories past. Admit it, you remember going to Thompson-Boling Arena, being surrounded by 10-15 Tennessee fans in attendance and watching guys who were a mixture of absurdity and in the later years, mild thuggery, give the Cats fits.
The names ring out like ghosts of Christmas past. There was the jeri curl goodness of Dyron Nix….the ubiqiuity of Lang Wiseman (I will never get the way the old JP announcers would say his name out of my head LANG WISE-man)….the box top of Steve Hamer…the utter CJness of Black and Watson….the stereotypical white big man in the SEC of the late 80s flavor of Doug Roth….the tattoo and skin conditionness of Tony Harris….the Barry Booker loved to say his nameness of Clarence Swearengen….the underachievement and pink hat greatness (old school Kentucky Sports Radio reference) of Major Wingate….the “I dont want to meet him in a dark alleyness of Charles Hathaway…the continued scrappiness of Jon Higgins and the “I forgot about that guy”ness of Brandon Wharton. All of those guys wore the ugly Orange and White and all have stuck with me to this day.
Say what you want about Tennessee…..Bruce Pearl is building quite a program and they will be good for some time. But none of the players of today resonate with me like the Big Orange of old. You can have Wayne Chism and Duke Crews….without a good Isiah Victor and Vincent Yarborough, I dont have any interest in the Vols. For me, Tennessee basketball peaked when Todd Svoboda had 4 and Allan Houston had 3 in the SEC Tournament. The Vols of today….eh, who cares.