Thanksgiving has come and gone and in the aftermath there is just no way to get over what we saw happen on Thanksgiving Eve… the return of Wildcat Basketball.
Now that in and of itself is something to be thankful for. The wild abrupt end of the previous season and then the months in between left many people wondering if we would even get to see a tipoff again. We did and we are thankful.
We are thankful that Morehead State came to Lexington to start the season against the Cats. The 81-45 win was a great way to start the year but props go to Morehead State because they worked hard, stuck with their game plan, and made the home team work.
We are thankful for the defensive chops the new Wildcats put on display. We got to see man to man, pressing, and zone (yes, you read that correctly. A Coach Cal team was playing zone.) The defense was tough and what we had hoped for. They are fast, they are long, and they are athletic.
We were thankful for the flashes of togetherness that the young team showed. They worked as a unit and they hustled together. We forget that each of these players were superstars on their high school team but they have now joined an elite group of players and they have to find their space on the team.
We are thankful that they can shoot. That was one of the concerns before the game. How would they shoot, where would the points come from, and who would step up…but they did. It was a balanced scoring attack and the points came with a 57% shooting night from the floor and 4 players checking in with double figures.
We are thankful that Devin Askew stepped up and looked like he really does want to quarterback this team as the point guard. It is easy to forget that he reclassified so he could get to Kentucky. Normally this would be his senior year in high school. He is young, fast, learning new habits, and has a nice shot. On a team of talented players, he will have to keep working but the first glimpse was a good one.
We are thankful that Isaiah Jackson has blistering speed. Thankful that Davion Mintz is a strong player. Thankful that Olivier Sarr stayed out of foul trouble in the second half and showed us what a nice touch he has. Hopefully he will be able to bang underneath when the opponents get bigger. Brandon Boston Jr did what we hoped he would do, he made plays. (Hopefully he had his dollar tucked inside his shoe)
We are thankful for Rupp Arena. It would have been nice to have it packed to the rafters with energetic fans but the sold out arena (obviously with limited seating) allowed us to hear some things that we don’t normally get to hear when it is packed. We could hear the players talking to one another, working together on defense, and becoming a unit. Those sound effects are not the things we usually get to hear.
And we are also thankful for the University of Kentucky. They have figured out a way to make it work in a Covid-19 world. The bubble has been effective and although there will be a few bumps and surprises as they year goes by to be sure. We as fans can rest in the fact that our staff has done everything they could and then some to make the year happen.
And last but not least, we are thankful that we get to see it all happen again on Sunday afternoon when Richmond comes to town. It is good to be thankful that a new season has begun. We can’t wait to see what happens next.