By Dakari Johnson (Follow on Twitter)
Happy New Year, Big Blue Nation! I hope everybody had a good Christmas.
I want to start off with the Louisville game because it was one of the best atmospheres I've ever played in. I lived here for a couple years when I was in middle school, but I didn't fully understand the rivalry until playing in this past weekend's game. It was kind of different seeing how everybody was into it. I know our fans don't like Louisville and Louisville fans really don't like Kentucky, but I was really surprised with just how loud it was in Rupp. We could hardly hear what plays we were running. So that was very intense and it was great to play in. It gave us a lot of motivation, and the fans really helped us pull out the win.
The locker room postgame was pretty fun. Everybody was hyped. We were playing music and just dancing and stuff. It was a good time. Some of my aunts, uncles and cousins came down for the game so I went out to celebrate with them after the game. Some of the other guys' families were in town as well. It was great just having our families down just to experience that with us.
More than anything, it was nice to see the results. It's rewarding to have all the hard work we've been putting in pay off and to play as a team. I think we're coming together and realizing that everybody has a role on this team. We saw that if everybody plays their role, it'll give us good results and we can compete with anybody in the country.
Before I get any further and because we're into a new year, I want to talk a little bit about how the first semester went. The first few months here gave me a sense of how to balance out class work with practice and just getting used to college. I think the first semester was good just in terms of getting my feet under me and knowing what to expect.
Fortunately, I didn't have any finals with my classes. I had a bunch of final speeches and papers, but once I turned those in I was done, which was nice because I got to catch up on some sleep. I know some of my other teammates weren't as fortunate.
After finals and the Belmont game, we got a few days off for the holidays. I didn't get to go home, but my mom and my brother came to town and we drove up to Cincinnati to visit some family. That was a good time up there, just to get away just for a couple days, see some new scenery and take a little break from the grind. We did a little shopping while we were up there too.
I know there was some worry about us having a few days off before the Louisville game, but since a lot of the guys worked out when they went back home, it wasn't that tough for us when we came back and had to prepare for the game. Everybody was just focused in and keyed in because we knew we had to pull out the win.
We're now in the middle of a really long stretch without any games. It's really hard not playing, but it would have been a lot more difficult had we lost. Plus, we all know how important this time of the year is with Camp Cal.
During Camp Cal, we've been going through two workouts a day and then we usually go to dinner or do some sort of activity afterwards since we don't have any classes. Last week we got to see a movie together as one of our activities. I'm a big movies person when I get some downtime, but it was cool to go with the whole team. Half of us saw "The Wolf of Wall Street" and the other half saw "Anchorman 2." I thought the Wall Street movie was pretty good.
Camp Cal has been a little different for me because I've never spent the whole day with my teammates, eating together, working out together, practicing together and then spending the night hanging out together is making us come together as a team because we're with each other 24/7. I think we've become a lot closer over the last couple of weeks.
As far as the grind of it, it's hard just waking up every morning. All we're doing is practicing, focusing on the things we need to fix, getting better defensively, doing a lot of drills and stuff like that. It can take a toll on your body so you have to be mentally prepared for it because it's a process. It was hard at first, but I'm kind of getting used to it and you can see the effect it's having. Guys are competing way more.
I'm hoping the work will start to pay off as we open the conference season. I'm really looking forward to going on the road in the SEC. I kind of want to see the atmosphere during the away games and stuff like that. I hear it's very hostile, so that'll be something new for me. I've been told that everywhere we go is like the biggest game on the other team's schedule, so I just want to see how other fans react towards us and stuff like that.
Alright, guys, we've got another practice coming up so I've got to get out of here. I hope everyone had a good break and had a good time off of work or school.