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How do you like me now?

The University of men's basketball team huddles together prior to the game against No. 22 Mississippi State on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.


On December 22nd I packed my car and headed to Chicago. It was going to be a long six hours. Sports Podcasts, coffee and Diet Coke were my only companions. I was not excited in fact, when I made it to Louisville I thought seriously about turning around and heading back home. Honestly, I was still thinking the same thought when I drove through downtown Indianapolis.

I had not lost faith in this team but I had yet to be engulfed with excitement. I had sat at Bankers Life Arena and witnessed the beatdown by the Blue Devils. I had cringed watching a Seton Hall team beat the CATS. A Seton Hall team that on paper should have been blown out by the CATS.

Quade Green had opted to transfer. The team seemed confused on offense and defense would occur only at brief stints. Yet, I drove on.

The thought of that “other blue” cheering and prodding Kentucky fans ran through my head. I reflected on the game in Las Vegas just two years ago. This year the excitement was just not there.

Fans were calling for the resignation of Cal. It was painful to read social media. What happened to the team that we all witnessed in the Bahamas?

When you begin a diet and you lose those first five pounds you get inspired. You get empowered, knowing you can lose more. When the next five pounds disappear you grow stronger and your willpower to reach your goal becomes more visible and attainable. Your friends (fans) notice you and praise you and you continue to show their support. You realize you have three months to fit into that swimsuit and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can do this!

Then the unthinkable happened…something clicked. Ashton Haggans was given the reigns of the team, positions were defined and this thing called defense appeared with fierce.

I realize that is a strange analogy but yet fitting for this team. With success comes the bandwagon including media and fair weather fans.

I am grateful for the cashier a Circle K outside of Indianapolis where I stopped to get coffee who asked, “Are you going to see Kentucky play?” With a smile on my face I replied, “Yes I am.”

I was there to see the beginning of the transformation.

Follow me @tcox5470

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