UK basketball fans are spoiled, specifically the student body. Calipari building a team is like trying to buy a Christmas gift for the kid who has everything. UK has the most all-time wins, more tournament wins than you can count, more SEC titles than anyone else, and 8 national championship banners- one from just last season. Still for fans it just isn’t enough.
When the team won last year they came out with tons of national champs t-shirts. I kid you not, two weeks later I saw ”Time for Nine” and “DY9ASTY” shirts already on sale.
I like seeing my team win just as much as (and probably more) than the next person. I especially like to see new banners go up in Rupp. Sometimes, however I think the expectations placed on Kentucky basketball are a bit much.
UK fans want a #1 recruiting class? You got four of them and another well on its way. Want tournament appearances? Calipari has had a Sweet 16, a Final Four and a National Title- in that order in his three years at Kentucky. Under Calipari, Kentucky also hit 2000 wins (his first season) and has set the record for most players to be drafted in a year.
I have been watching Kentucky basketball as long as I can remember and I realize that last year’s team was something really special, a once in a decade team. They played extremely selfless, had a burning desire to win and cared about each other. I don’t like questioning effort, and no doubt we have a talented, young, but talented team of Cats this year. Regardless of what they may or may not lack, it’s unfair to compare them to last year’s team. It is pretty unrealistic to expect a national title every year, yet Kentucky fans do.
I’ve been in Rupp for every home game this year aside from the blue/white scrimmage and I can honestly say fan morale is down, especially in the student section. One thing you can’t help but notice is how quiet Rupp is. Other coaches and players have always said Rupp Arena is one of the hardest places to play in college basketball because the BBN always packs the house and are LOUD. This year isn’t quite the case. The Baylor game had its moments but for the most part it has been unusually quiet. I was there last year and I had been to Rupp before that- the
difference is crazy. I’ve heard players for different sports say countless times that a lot of the time the crowd going wild can make the difference, if that’s true then BBN is partially at fault for the loss at home.
Another thing I’ve noticed about this season is unfaithful fans. Or fair-weather fans. Regardless of what you call them, Rupp hasn’t been nearly as full as usual. I haven’t been in the eRUPPtion Zone this season but you can tell they aren’t nearly as crammed as it used to be. There are empty seats all throughout Rupp, fans are disappointed and it’s showing.
The word on campus is probably the part that frustrates me the most. I’ve heard people say, “We suck at football and basketball now” or “this team is really terrible” and even “Nerlens isn’t as good as Anthony” (which isn’t ENTIRELY true if you look at stats). My message to the student body? WE DO NOT SUCK AT BASKETBALL. Yes, they lost a few games- to good teams. Like Coach Cal said in a press conference, “better they get their wake-up call now”. I’m not sure how much of the student body grew up Kentucky fans but for those that didn’t, go look at wins/tournament
appearances in the Billy Gillisipe era, then judge this team.
Kentucky fans are now mad at basketball and excited about football…its like we’re an SEC school or something. I have faith in BBN, I want to see Rupp rockin’ again and the eRUPPtion Zone full and restored to its glory. This is a talented team, they just have to find their rhythm and mesh and when they do it will all be ok, I’m sure. Until then, enjoy the game of basketball, enjoy the tradition and take it all in.