Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a Kentucky fan. I’m talking about the legendary Kentucky men’s basketball team – Wildcats, Big Blue Nation, John Calipari and the most-winningest NCAA Division I basketball program of all time.
I know that’s kind of dangerous to say in Tar Heels and Blue Devils country (heck even N.C. State, but that’s a team I rarely worry about). I’m not afraid to sport my “UK” decal on the back of my pickup. But wait, let me keep your attention here. Don’t turn the page on me yet because we’re about to agree on one thing – college basketball is a much better version of the game than NBA basketball.
OK. Now keep reading.
College basketball is something I wait for all year, and any of you diehards know the same to be true. Maybe I love it because it eases the pain of being a Philadelphia Eagles fan but mostly because it’s the highest level of ball where players are still playing for something and not the name on their jersey.
Ask me if I’d rather go to and cover a college game or NBA game, floor seats, interviews with the players, etc ... do it. I’d still say college.
Reason being? Well, at a professional level, the passion just seems to be forced. It’s a money-driven activity. It’s too much LeBron James and not enough Tim Duncan.
I know things will never be sunshine and roses at a professional level. I know these guys play basketball for a living and being a leading scorer on your team rolls in more dough than not. But I want to see some desire to win as a team and not as an individual. More specifically, I want to see some dang defense, more assists and more coordinated offenses. We all know you can lay down a three, but do I have to see that every single play?
Eh, don’t get me wrong ... any game in general, whether it be football (my all-time favorite no matter what level), baseball, soccer or basketball, I’m interested in watching. Take for example hockey. Gosh, I love watching NHL and even hockey at a collegiate level – it’s just fun to watch. But I’m a casual fan at best. If it’s on, I’ll watch it.
No matter what, though, unless I’m watching the NBA Finals, where maybe the selfish feel of the game becomes a bit less, I could care less.
Anyway, back to college ball.
I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to tonight’s State Farm Classic. It pits my Cats against the Blue Devils. Ugh — Duke.
Last season killed me — KILLED me. Last year’s 39th game against Wisconsin, well I’ll talk about it briefly.
Those Badgers, they deserved to win it. They did. I’ll give it to them. But boy was I cheering for Wisconsin to take Duke out and it couldn’t even do that.
We’ll see what happens this season, but all I know is I would much rather have been in the title game than try and go on a 40-game win streak. It just takes the pressure off.
OK, for you UNC fans, I’ll give it to you. You head into this week as the claimed (claimed being keyword) top dog in the fight – believe me, I will never say the number figure in front of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Nope. Don’t forget it wasn’t too long ago that Kentucky and North Carolina were tied at that top spot. We may be second, but not for very long y’all.
Let’s go Cats.
Sarah Bloom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org