If you are from Kentucky, you probably know who Enes Kanter is. The freshman from Turkey and top recruit was declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA recently. Kentucky appealed the decision and the appeal apparently took place on Wednesday. If my twitter feed is any indication, the entire BBN and beyond went on Enes watch as news spread that a final ruling could come before the weekend. ETA: "Free Enes Friday" came and went. News followed that in light of the recent ruling on Cam Newton, UK would submit new information on the Kanter decision. Since new information cannot be submitted to the appeal board, the entire case would essentially start over and head back to the NCAA reinstatement staff.
If you have been around campus or to a game recently, you have more than likely noticed Enes. At 6'11", he is virtually impossible to miss. I first caught a glimpse of him at Big Blue Madness. His surprise entrance as "The UnderKanter" had the Big Blue Nation rocking Rupp to its rafters.
Seeing Enes being forced to watch his teammates play from the bench was a disheartening sight. You couldn't help but feel sorry for the kid who wants nothing more than to play basketball as a Wildcat.
Enes acknowledges the faithful chanting "Free Enes" as he leaves the floor.
From the moment "Free Enes" was written on a fan blog, a phenomenon was born. From shirts to signs and even a song, there was no escaping the new Kentucky rally cry.
I next saw Enes at the Blue and White Game at Rupp Arena, once again forced to support his teammates from the bench. He was a little more animated in this appearance, smiling at times and wearing his Undertaker t-shirt in keeping with his new nickname, "The UnderKanter."
My next Enes sighting was at the UK Hoops season opener against Morehead State. It struck me just how much of a typical student he has become-from attending classes to casually taking in a game with friends. He has some tough decisions to make if the appeal is not successful. I am sure it will be a real heartbreak for everyone, especially for Enes, if he leaves campus.
So as the Big Blue Nation prays for an early Christmas present, the NCAA deliberates and a young man's future hangs in the balance.
Best of luck to you Enes!
Here is a video compilation of some of the many "Free Enes" creations made by fans and supporters.
UK Hoops defeated a tough Morehead State team in the season opener 82-48. A crowd of 6793 was on hand to witness the victory, including 2000+ 6th grade students from Fayette Co. Public Schools. A field trip to a basketball game? Only in Kentucky! #WeAreUK
One of the highlights of the game was definitely the wardrobe of the Morehead St. coaching staff. I can't decide if these are the most awesome things I have ever seen, or the most repulsive!
Ummm...the Norwegian Curling Team called, they want their pants back. :D
On a more somber note, Keyla Snowden took a hard fall and appeared to have a pretty serious knee injury.
Prayers for a quick recovery.♥
Thanks! You are so much fun to follow. =) Best of luck to the Morehead State Lady Eagles and congratulations to Coach Hodges on his first win as a Division 1 head coach. We are sure it is the first of many to come!
What can't UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell do? He can carry a tune with that southern drawl. He can dance as he proved when he hit the Dougie at Big Blue Madness. He also won a little award called SEC Coach of the Year. He seems too good to be true. We'll have to ask his wife Jenna if he puts his socks in the hamper. :)
Coach Mitchell was all business at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. The Lady Cats put on a show in their exhibition game against KWC. This was my first UK Hoops game. I was excited to see Keyla Snowden, since I have been following her on twitter for awhile now and was waiting for a chance to catch her in action. The Lady Cats are ranked 9th in pre-season poles. If their 99-55 victory over KWC is any indication, it looks like it will be an exciting season for the UK women's basketball program.
I also had a chance to catch up with The Kentucky Spidermen. They are becoming quite a phenomenon and were kind enough to take a pic. with my favorite little true blue Wildcat.
"Can You Hear Us Now?" is the team's rally cry this year. I think we are all getting the message loud and clear. Best of luck ladies!
I don't pretend to know much about soccer. I have been to a couple of UK games this season and I guess it must grow on you gradually. These guys play hard and if the Memphis game is any indication, they take a beating physically. I respect the passion they play with and enjoy supporting all our Wildcats, even if I am not really a fan of the sport.
That being said, the photo ops. are great! I haven't quite developed a sense for the timing of soccer, but I am working on it. Here are a few of my favorites from the Memphis game. The game seemed pretty brutal with several injuries and even a fight. Don't think there was any love lost between these two teams!
This one reminded me of one those slow motion fight scenes in The Matrix. :)
I attended my first Big Blue Madness over the weekend. For those of you not from Kentucky, it is hard to describe the level of intensity fans feel for college basketball here. They eat, sleep and breathe it. Fans camped out for days to get tickets to see the newest Wildcats hold their first public practice. More than 525 tents wrapped around Memorial Coliseum before the ticket distribution.
*photo from UK Athletics
More than 22,000 tickets sold out in less than an hour...for a practice! Big Blue Madness has been described as a potpourri of sensory overload. This year's event was no exception and featured fireworks, the UK Cheerleaders, Dance Team, Mascots, Band and Drum Line. UK Hoops (the women's basketball team) added some fun with a crowd chant and Coach Matthew Mitchell doing the Dougie.
The players were introduced with plumes of smoke and videos and danced down the ramp to the court to music spun by Washington Wizards DJ Big Tigger. The place exploded as last year's Draft Cats appeared in video messages to the Big Blue Nation. Madness literally rocked Rupp Arena up to the rafters with every seat being filled all the way to the top. The roar of 22,000+ and the adrenaline flowing in that arena is something I will not soon forget. As the 2011 recruits were being escorted to their seats on the floor, I wondered what they must have been thinking. I don't know if it impresses them with the grandeur of it all or if it scares the hell out of them thinking they will be there next year!
I was like a kid on Christmas Day and loved every minute of my first Madness. With any luck, I'll be back next year!
I shot my first volleyball match on Friday night. I had heard good things about the 16th ranked UK Volleyball team, but had never been to a volleyball match before. Their first game against Louisville drew a rowdy crowd of over 2000 people. I ventured down to Memorial Coliseum to see what all the excitement was about. I have to say, these women go hard! I was very surprised at how exciting it was. I had read a quote from one of the coaches I believe that said if you come to one match, you'll be back. After watching my first match, I know it won't be my last. These ladies are true athletes-diving, rolling and jumping around all over the place! The atmosphere is also pretty electric.
I found out quickly that the challenge was going to be keeping up with the action. Having never been to a match, I had to learn to anticipate the movements which are very fast. I was getting a feel for it by the end of the match. White balance is also a big issue in Memorial Coliseum. Not sure I ever really got it right. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but had a good time trying!
It has been a busy summer in what I refer to as my "Sports Photography Immersion Program." I thought I would share a few slideshows from some recent events/assignments.
The Lexington Hustlers season wrapped up with the final game against the Southern Ohio Copperheads. The guys battled injuries and a grueling schedule, but never gave up. So proud of my "boys of summer." :)
I also had a chance to shoot at Bengals Training Camp in Georgetown, KY. I still have hundreds of shots to sort through, but I managed to get a few posted-mostly of a shirtless TO. I kept getting so distracted. ha I guess now I know why most sports photographers are male.
This weekend was UK Football Fan Day. We were treated to a full open practice and autograph session. I also got a priceless memory of sitting on the field at Commonwealth Stadium and watching the fireworks display. I had never been on the field before so it was a great experience!
We have a new collegiate summer baseball team in town called the Lexington Hustlers. I have been working on my sports shots this summer. It is definitely a learning process for me and a challenge with my lenses, but I am beginning to get a feel for it.
I watched some amazing baseball this weekend. The Kentucky Wildcats needed a big series to help them try to secure a spot in the SEC Tournament. They had an incredible weekend and ended up sweeping the defending champions, the LSU Tigers. And they did it in dramatic fashion.
Game 1 was won on Lance Ray's monster three run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Here are some images from that game. You couldn't have asked for more beautiful baseball weather, complete with a nice sunset over Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't as cooperative for Game 3. A light rain fell during the entire 3 hrs and 33 minutes of the game. I don't think any Kentucky fans left though even with a rocky start and the Cats falling behind early. In his last home at bat, senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer blasted a grand slam home run in the bottom of the 8th on a full count. It was sick! I think they will be talking about that one and this series around here for years to come!
It was the first time since 1991 that the Cats swept LSU and only the second time in program history. Go Big Blue!
Switching gears...a little baseball action. University of Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Florida Gators. My husband's friend has a son on the Florida baseball team so we headed down to Cliff Hagan Stadium when he was in town playing the Wildcats.
In case you haven't heard, the Great Peep Off 2010 is underway. Since we are in the middle of March Madness, I had to give some love to my Wildcats-Peep style. =) I did this completely in Photoshop so it doesn't qualify for the contest, but I thought you would get a kick out of it anyway.