Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: What kind of connection do you NEED?

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Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The above picture is what I would think John Calipari would have looked like if he browsed John Clay’s facebook feed on Wednesday afternoon.

John Clay posted on facebook his story about the dwindling attendance at UK basketball games. Amidst the comments, I kept seeing a recurring theme that I have seen since John Calipari came to Kentucky. This whole “it’s hard to get a connection” with players that stay just one or two years. And to be honest, I really don’t get that. Not a bit. And the fact that now people use this lack of connection as a reason that people do not go to games

Here are a few of the comments that were somehow connected to a story about attendance:


I think people are having a hard time watching a new AAU team every year posing as Kentucky. We can’t establish a relationship with them because they are here only to get a chance to go to the NBA. I am so tired of people saying we won a national championship with a freshmen team. That team had (3) returning starters from a final four team and one was a four year Kentuck boy!


The theme continued …


With all the new player ever year you cant bond/grow with the team until the end of the season and then there gone and then you have to start over. Also the lack of in state players that have always been a big part of Big Blue Nation and the lack of good games at home.


And continued …


The fans have problems connecting with the team. When you look back at the great teams the Wildcats have had in the past they all had one thing in common, they all had players that the fans identified with. This may be because the players had roots in Kentucky like Goose Givens, John Pelphrey, etc… or they became adopted sons like Rick Robey, Kenny Walker, Kyle Macy, etc… How many of the more recent players will we see return to Lexington or even the Commonwealth of Kentucky to call it home?

The fans no longer can identify with the players it is just like the way free agency affected Major League Baseball. Everyone still remembers the Big Red Machine but who really can name the starting eight from more recent teams. Most true Reds fans can name the great eight their uniform number and their position in the batting order. They can still remember the starting pitchers and the relief pitchers that Captain Hook (Sparky Anderson) would go to the bullpen with.

Whenever someone mentions the uniform numbers of past UK players such as #44, #4, #32 and #55 they automatically think of Dan Illsel, Kyle Macy, James Lee and Mike Phillips. Who will remember the number of John Wall, Anthony Davis, MKG, etc… thirty or forty years from now. When fans look into the rafters at retired numbers they see the Rupp’s Runts or the Unforgettable’s how will we retire any uniform numbers from more recent players?

I don’t know if we will ever be able to overcome the one and done era that we are in but in order to rebuild the fan base we need to have players that fans get to know as favorite sons of the Big Blue Nation.


And I have to admit that I really do not get this “no connection with UK players” argument.  What kind of connection are you looking for?  Help me out?

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