By Jarrod Polson (Follow on Twitter)
What's going on, Big Blue Nation?
I'm happy to be doing this and get a chance to talk about my last year here at Kentucky. It's been a fun ride so far and I'm really happy to see what this season is going to turn out like. I hope we go out with a bang.
Team-wise, I think we're doing pretty good so far. I think we've been improving every day, and that's the biggest goal here is just not to worry about who we're playing but improving ourselves every day. With the big first test against Michigan State, I think we showed a lot of perseverance. We could have lost by 30 that game with the start we had, but I think that definitely proved how competitive our guys are and how much they want to win no matter what.
Even though we lost that game, I think that may have helped us a lot, kind of like the Indiana game did to us in my sophomore year. It was kind of just a wake-up call to realize that everyone is going to give us their best game every night. We always have to be ready.
I wouldn't say our new guys were nervous, but when Michigan State went on that big 10-0 run at the beginning, you could kind of see them like, oh wow, this is big time and something they had never been a part of before. I think that's definitely going to help them because that's how the tournament games are going to be in the SEC and in the NCAA Tournament. I think just having that in the back of their minds and finally getting through that game and actually coming back at the end and having a chance to win shows them that they're going to have to play hard. Knowing now that we have the fight and will to do it, I think it will prove to be an important game for us.
The Michigan State game was also our first time on the road this year. I've been through it a lot, but it was the freshmen's first time flying on the plane with us and seeing how we do things. We don't really get to do too many extracurricular activities when we're on the road; we pretty much just stay in the hotel and get focused for the game. At the same time, it puts everyone together. I think it's definitely a good bonding experience going on the plane rides together and just being in different cities together and being with each other for a 48-hour period non-stop. I really enjoy the road a lot. I think a lot of the players do just because it kind of lets us get away and we get to play.
For me, the trip to Chicago was cool because it was my first time in the United Center. Seeing Michael Jordan's retired jersey and stuff in the rafters, I think everyone was just kind of like, wow. I know some of them played in the McDonald's All-American Game so they had been in there before, but for me, I didn't even realize it until we went in there. I was just kind of like, oh yeah, this is where Michael Jordan played. This is where the Chicago Bulls made their legacy.
It's kind of crazy how many games we have played already. I feel like we usually don't play half the games that we've already played in November. But we're enjoying it. We enjoy playing. If we could play every day I think we would choose that over practicing. Honestly, sometimes it feels like a game is less tiring than a practice. It's fun for us to get started right off the bat and keep playing game after game after game, plus I think it's good for the freshmen because they're just getting g a ton of experience. I think it's a win-win situation for us.
Off the court, I think we're a really close team. Curfew has kind of helped with that. We're all in by 11 or midnight every night. A lot of us are still awake at that point so we're bringing out the pool table and stuff like that, just hanging out with one another. Actually me, Jon and Dominique just brought out the ping pong table the night after our game. I think I'm the best, but I've only played Jon and Dominique so far and it's really the first time we've played it this year. I'm not much of a pool shark, but Hoody is pretty good at pool. Alex is alright. Actually, not really.
In all seriousness, even though we would prefer not to have curfew, it's actually making us closer. We have to hang out. It's not like we don't want to hang out anyways because we love each other off the court, but we're getting closer because of it and we're having fun.
If we get to go home for Thanksgiving, I'll probably take a couple of the guys home with me since so many of them don't live close to here and won't have anywhere to go. Coach has had us over for dinner at his house in the past, but I think it would be fun to bring some of the guys home, and I know my family would be welcome to that. I haven't been home in a while, so just getting back to see my family and all my relatives would be really exciting for me.
When I think back to stuff like that and how we do things every year, it kind of hits me how fast this is all flying by for me. A lot of people told me that would happen, but I didn't really believe them at the time. I guess in one sense it feels like freshman year was a long time ago, but at the same time I've been in college for four years and it seems like a flash. I can remember back when I was a freshman, I could barely do one drill without messing up. For me personally, my development has gotten a lot better with basketball. Really, just with everything I feel like I've grown up a lot. I've been around the block. I'm really used to it now and it's normal for me. At the same time, I just want to enjoy my senior year.
Jon came up with this idea before our first game of calling our senior year our farewell tour. It pretty much just means no matter what happens this season, we're not going to get discouraged and we're just going to try to enjoy it as much as we can. We can't control playing time or anything like that, so we're just going to take everything in and work as hard as we can like we have for the last three years and try to enjoy everything that comes with this last season because this is it for us.
Jon and I have talked a little bit about possibly going overseas once our careers are over here. We don't really know about how to go about trying to do that, but it would be awesome if we have that opportunity. Obviously it would be totally different. It would be a huge commitment that we would have to make. A lot of people are good enough to go over there but they just choose not to because it's so different. We're going to have to look at that and weigh the pros and cons of each thing. I think as the season goes on, we're probably going to get a better feel for if we can even go over there and where we would go and stuff like that, but we're still in the beginning processes of that.
At the same time, it's not like a do-or-die thing for me. That's not been my main goal in life, to play professional overseas basketball, but I'm just trying to keep my options open. The good thing about me and Jon is that I do think we have a lot of opportunities whether it's going overseas or getting a job over here. We're excited for it just to enter a new chapter in our lives.
As we enter the final few chapters here, I think I'm looking forward to the tournament run the most. That's definitely the most exciting part of the season for the fans and for us. We get to go to class for like two days a week and then the rest of the week we're at whatever site we're at and just practicing. It just seems like everyone is watching college basketball during that time and that's what I think is most exciting. When I was a kid in March, I would just glue my eyes to the television watching every tournament game I could find. Just being a part of it is still a cool experience for me. I can't wait for it again.
Until then, we've got a lot of practice between now and then. I've got to head to one now so I'll catch you all later. Happy Thanksgiving!