What is basketball in Kentucky all about? Final Fours … NCAA banners? Nah. It’s the journey.
This week, look east, good fellows, to Louisa Elementary School. Super Hero Day was held last month at the school in Lawrence County and young Jake Preece showed up wearing a UK sweatshirt and hat to honor his super hero — Aaron Harrison.
Far from twitter, tweet, hype and coach spin, the genuine essence of basketball in Kentucky IS Jake Preece and every tow-head kid like him, and every Pollyanna little girl too.
Kid gets an eyeful how a game (on teevee) affects Mom and Dad, how it impacts a kid’s peers. Special. Not to be forgotten.
Kid picks a favorite college team, picks a favorite player … imitates him, tries to dress like him and invests his/her young heart in every breathtaking 3-point try.
In context, I wonder then, when 19-year-old Aaron Harrison looks to his coach for counsel about leaving college after seven months, does his ball coach and other college coaches pause to remember — before their piles of money — the indelible and innocent joys of being kids growing up with super heroes?
Super heroes … basketball in Kentucky.
“It’s taken us four years, and we’re very proud to present our rankings of the arena experience for each of the 351 teams that compete in Division I,” writer Paul Swaney says of Stadium Journey.
How did arenas in Kentucky rank?
Criteria: Food and beverage, atmosphere, fans, neighborhood, access (traffic, parking, restrooms, ability to move around in the arena), and overall return on investment.
In reverse order …
223rd. Northern Kentucky. Opened in 2008, the Bank of Kentucky Center has taken the Northern Kentucky University Athletic Department to a whole new level. Division I.
200th. Morehead State. Ellis T. Johnson Arena was constructed in 1981, seats 6,500. Venue has elements of modern and classic college basketball home. Steep, high sideline bench seats suggest a historic field house, but modern video boards on both baseline walls keep spectators informed with scores, stats, and replays.
165th. Eastern Kentucky. Paul S. McBrayer Arena is a unique venue boasting the world’s largest wooden cross-arched roof.
42nd. Murray State. Continued commitment to basketball, the athletic department unveiled a plan in 2011 to add separate practice facility next to the CFSB Center and addition of corporate luxury boxes. Sky is the limit in Murray, Kentucky!
23rd. Western Kentucky. Too often the stepchild in a basketball crazy state, but it shouldn’t stop fans from venturing to the hilly college town of Bowling Green, Kentucky. E.A. Diddle Arena provides a fantastic basketball experience at an affordable price.
19th. Louisville. KFC Yum Center. When it comes to the atmosphere at the KFC Yum! Center, all you can say is WOW. If you haven’t been to a Louisville Cardinals game yet, you haven’t seen what makes college basketball one of the greatest live sporting events in all of the land.
And, best of 351 in all the land, Kentucky’s home of the Wildcats.
1st. Rupp Arena. Named for 41- year and 4- time National Champion coach Adolph Rupp, 23,000 seat venue in downtown Lexington draws over 24,000 spectators for marquee matchups. Eight NCAA title banners hang from the rafters to greet fans and provide a reminder of the history and tradition of the Kentucky’s program.