Ahh, Thanksgiving. That wonderful time of year when it’s socially acceptable to go back to the buffet for thirds–and oh yeah, reflect on the things in life for which we are truly thankful. In the Big Blue Nation, you’ve got the five standards: basketball, Calipari, bourbon, a sober ride home from Keeneland, and Kentucky Sports Radio, but this year, I’ve come up with a few more…
1. Aaron Harrison
…and his cajones. Without Harrison’s heroics, it’s hard to imagine what this season would be like. Would the Twins still be here? Would Willie? Thank God we don’t have to know.
2. Seriously’s GIFs on the live blog
The KSR live blogs are always entertaining, but Seriously took things up a notch when he started posting random and hilarious GIFs. The secret to Seriously’s talent is his timing, and he’s become such a staple of the live blog that when he’s not able to participate, we all do this:
3. UNC hypocrisy exposed
Although the NCAA has yet to hand out their punishment, the UNC academic scandal was finally exposed this fall, leaving entitled Tarheels everywhere grasping for straws. As I’m sure Fake Barney will tell you, there is no greater joy than seeing a North Carolina fan attempt to justify 18 years of academic fraud by saying “everyone does it, we just got caught.” Seriously? Hush.
4. Our Funkhouser friends
Our friends on the Funkhouser pop culture blog are doing work, and if you don’t already have it bookmarked, you should. Tomlin’s article on “cutting the cord” on cable TV still makes me consider doing it every now and again.
5. The NBA Cats
All 19 of them. Not only are former UK players taking over the league in numbers, they’re dominating every major statistical category.
6. Dancing Guy
Darren Moscoe, aka “Dancing Guy,” has been a staple at UK games for years, and when Rupp slips into a coma as it often does, nothing gets it stirring more than “Mony Mony.” Even if his rail slides make us slightly uncomfortable, there’s no denying that Dancing Guy makes Rupp Arena a more entertaining place.
7. Swaggy Cal
Because this season, there isn’t any other kind.
8. Tom Crean
Please keep ruining Indiana.
In retrospect, the win over South Carolina isn’t as impressive as we thought at the time, but beating Spurrier and the Gamecocks under the lights at Commonwealth was a special moment for the football program. We may have a long ways to go, but we’re just getting started, bro.
10. The SEC Network
Sure, they still struggle to keep the camera on the ball sometimes, but thanks to them, we get to see the Cats on a legitimate TV network a lot more often. Bonus points for putting a mic on Cal during basketball games.
11. Ryan Lemond
We’ve loved Ryan Lemond for years, but he truly came into his own in 2014. Body Shapes Medical helped Ryan become Skinny Ryan and now, he’s truly flourishing in his role as the lovable, goofy sidekick/hype man. UK even trusted Ryan to emcee the halftime festivities at Rupp, and so far, he’s tackled the UK mascot and broken his glasses, all while damning the man by wearing his KSR gear. What will Ryan do next?
12. A renovated Commonwealth Stadium
A stadium with actual character and amenities coming to you soon in Fall 2015.
A KSR insider tip: if Drew Franklin’s Snapchat story is longer than 80 seconds, it’s 90% likely I’ll have the morning shift the next day.
14. Kentucky’s chrome helmets
When Kentucky football finally became cool.
15. Matt Elam carrying the American flag
Or the Kentucky state flag. Is there a more beautiful sight?
The evolution of Andrew Harrison has been one of the underrated storylines this season. After struggling last year, Andrew finally found his way during the postseason and is the clear leader of this team, despite having a different point guard being on the floor half of the game. Andrew hasn’t always enjoyed his experience at UK, which makes his smile even sweeter this season.
Senior defensive end Bud Durpee could have left for the NFL after last season, but decided to come back to help Mark Stoops rebuild the Kentucky program. Dupree spent the summer in the weight room with Erik Korem, and as a result, became even more of a freak athlete. Throughout the Cats’ slide this season, I couldn’t help but think of Dupree’s wish for at least one celebratory plane ride home before his college career ends. If Kentucky does beat Louisville on Saturday, Joe Craft better charter his private jet for Dupree’s victory tour.
Five players working together towards one goal is enough for most teams. Six players is great, seven ideal. But ten, twelve if you count the platoons’ sixth men? The ’96 team played ten players, but how Cal’s doing it, giving each player roughly 20 minutes of playing time each? That’s unheard of.
Because chances are if the team looks like they’re having fun, they’re having fun.
20. Unfinished business
See you soon, Indy.