By Ryan Lemond


It’s no secret that our state “lives and dies” with the University of Kentucky basketball team. The overall psyche of our state largely depends on how some 19 and 20-year-old young men play basketball. After big wins, everyone in the Commonwealth is happy and joyous. I have always suspected that work productivity goes way up in the work place after a UK win.

Likewise, everyone in the Commonwealth is usually sad and down after a loss, and it increases ten-fold after a heartbreaking loss.

Big Blue Nation falls in love with our Cats every year. And every year, BBN goes to bed at night and dreams of their beloved Cats cutting down the nets in March. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

But for some reason, the fan base just didn’t seem to accept this year’s edition of John Calipari’s Cats. The season started with much less fanfare than in seasons past. We didn’t seem to have the “superstar” player like John Wall, Anthony Davis or Karl Anthony-Townes to get the fans excited about the team and the season.

The team just didn’t seem to have a lot of personality. Maybe it’s because we really didn’t know these fresh, new faces. (If you haven’t heard, Cal has his youngest team ever at UK, and it’s the youngest team in the country.)

Something wasn’t right. Something was missing. We didn’t feel the love for Cal’s Cats, and we sure didn’t seem as excited about this year’s team as we normally get.

But then it all changed. Quade put on the shades.

Yep, that’s all it took. When Quade Green wore those shades against Virginia Tech, all of a sudden, this team had some swagger. This team became cool. This team became one that we can really get excited about.

Because not only did Mr. Cool Quade wear the shades (which he needed to do after getting poked in the eye during the Monmouth game in New York) but also, the Cats just played so well in that game.

The 2010 team had the dance: John Wall’s signature dance from Big Blue Madness. The 2011 team had Jorts: Josh Harrelson’s nickname for wearing cut off blue jean shorts. The 2012 team had the unibrow: Anthony Davis’ trademark eyebrow. The 2013 team had the hair: Nerens Noel’s stovetop haircut. The 2014 - 2015 team had the twins: Aaron and Andrew Harrison’s star shone bright before they ever got on campus. The 2016 team had the bow and arrow: Jamal Murray’s trademark move after a 3 pointer. The 2017 team had Fox and Monk: DeAaron Fox and Malik Monk were superstars in the making and so fun to watch.

But this year’s team had nothin’. Without sounding mean, this year’s team was almost too “vanilla”. There was no personality. There was nothing to get excited about.

Until, that is, Quade put on the shades.

I feel very confident that when this season is over, BBN is going to look back at that two-game stretch against Monmouth and Virginia Tech and say, “That’s where the season turned around”. Kentucky scored over 90 in back-to-back games, and I’m thinking this year’s edition of the Cats may never look back.

There may be some losses along the way; that happens to young teams from time to time. But this team has a little swagger now. This team has us excited. All because of some super cool shades. •