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We Meet Again, Memorial Gymnasium

When Kentucky goes into Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night they are going to be facing a Vanderbilt team unlike any we’ve seen in the past three years. This year’s team does not have that odd mix of talent and mediocrity that we’ve come to know and love from Kevin Stallings’ teams. As a senior at Vanderbilt (but still unequivocally a Cats fan) it pains me to say it but this team simply isn’t good enough to be a contender in the SEC. Vanderbilt does have one asset at its disposal, however, that could cause problems for the Cats; that damned MC Escher designed gymnasium they play in. Yes, the one where the shot clocks are on the floor, the benches are on the ends, and the fans play while the players cheer. It doesn’t make any sense.


Its not just the quirky design of the arena we have to worry about. When Kentucky comes into town the atmosphere completely changes. All the seats are filled and the student section is overflowing. Fans line up early to get in and when tip-off finally arrives they get loud. Really loud. Two years ago I walked into my first Vanderbilt-Kentucky game (I had to miss the game my freshman year), strutting my lucky Kelenna Azubuike jersey, expecting to receive some degree of playful smack-talk. I was wrong. Practically every fan in the student section seemed to have a legitimate hatred for me and for what I was doing. I was on the receiving end of a near constant stream of trash, both physical and verbal. That year the Brandon Knight led Wildcats were upset by the Commodores. Score one for the Gymnasium.


One of the main criticisms of this years Kentucky team is that they too often play like freshmen. To an outsider this may seem like an odd statement considering that our team is made up predominantly of freshmen. However, at Kentucky we’ve become a little spoiled. We’ve had teams filled with rookies the last three years that have all, at some point or another, played like seasoned veterans. But even last year’s national championship team could only manage a 6-point victory at Vanderbilt.


My point is that despite the obvious shortcomings of this year’s Commodores this game could easily end up being close one. Even our most talented and poised team of the Calipari era struggled to get a win at Memorial. This year we have the luxury of playing a team that is far less talented than last year. Still, the environment will be the same as in years past. The student section will be packed, and loud, and in the second half John Calipari will be 90 feet away and our guys will essentially be on their own.


We’ve seen this team make major strides over the past few weeks in terms of how hard they play and how they communicate on the court. The timing couldn’t be better, because a game like this will be entirely determined by the mental toughness of our guys. Our advantage in talent is undeniable. If we play with focus and intensity we should have no problem cruising to a victory, even on an off shooting night. If our guys let the atmosphere throw them off, though, we could be in trouble. Basically, we just have to beat that damned gymnasium.



Article written by Jack Heyburn

20 Comments for We Meet Again, Memorial Gymnasium

  1. Kristen Geil
    3:19 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Totally agree with what you’re saying. Like I wrote yesterday, Ryan Harrow especially will be key in the gymnasium as the “quiet” point guard playing in the weirdly shaped gym.

  2. Crizzle
    3:23 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Vanderbilt is absolute crap this year, UK should win by double digits if not 20. If yelling vandy fans affect them to the point where this game is close then I will be worried about this teams toughness.

  3. Cokely
    3:28 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Thank you for not writing about Louisville. Too much about them on here recently.

  4. iucansuckabigblue....
    3:40 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Memorial Gymnasium is an absolute dump. And I even remember seeing that funky court layout as a kid and wondering what was they thinking.

    As for the basketball team, they are terrible too having lost everyone. I heard on the radio Friday with Pratt that they really recruited Poythress really hard. Awww too bad.

    Lets give them alittle payback for the SEC championship game. And an extra 10 for having a stupid court.

    Go Big Blue!!!

  5. We Hang Banners
    3:43 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    I hate that gym. But its cool we get to play in it.

  6. LeX
    4:32 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Vandy is really bad this year. If Kentucky doesnt win then they dont deserve anything better than an 8 seed.

  7. Uk4 life
    5:06 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    How does Vandy play on the road when they don’t have that weird gym they are used to?

  8. Jim
    6:01 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    west kentucky will be ther! Friday they had ltickets available.

  9. Steve
    6:08 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Central Kentucky will be there! Sunday morning Vandy still had tickets. No excuse for BBN not to fill Vandy’s gym at face value price given the stupid $$$ Kentucky fans have had to pay in the past.

  10. tickle
    6:23 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    will digger be there?

  11. STEVE!
    6:48 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    Vandy had three of the top 30 palyers in the country last year, plus three other Senior starters. They are all gone. They have nothing comparable this year. If we can almost win on the Cards home floor in that environment, we should crush Vandy. Since I live near Nashville and Vandy’s obnoxious, clueless fans, I can’t wait.

  12. Steve
    8:10 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    KSR run a ticker to see how many Kentucky fans will be in Nashville on Tuesday.
    Just open a story with that title and see what the numbers will be.

  13. jeff j
    8:50 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    doooo !

  14. jeff j
    8:53 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    go figure M. C. Escher ~!! thats hilariousness in its best Jack.who would of thunk it? yet its so true and cool !!!!

  15. jeff j
    8:55 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    its kinda like 4 d basketball

  16. jeff j
    8:56 pm January 6, 2013 Permalink

    my only question is “what was M.C. thinking ????

  17. Steve
    5:56 am January 7, 2013 Permalink

    13. Says that should be Thursday not Tuesday.

  18. Roger
    10:45 am January 7, 2013 Permalink

    Conner Barwin played basketball and football at UC.

  19. John B
    5:00 pm January 7, 2013 Permalink

    I got my tickets in 2H and this will be my first time I get to see the inside of memorial I am so excited I cannot wait until Thursday. I expect a good UK faithful turnout for this game.