Over the course of 4 seasons, 3 coaches, 3 different jersey numbers, and at last count 6 unnecessary injuries, 1 Alaskan has endured it all.
Ramon Harris, Bitches Sports Fans.
Harris was brought in from Anchorage, AK as a midseason eligible player back in 2006 in hopes to alleviate some pressure off of Tubby’s final and most depleted Wildcat roster (in terms of top to bottom developed talent). Message boards, psychiatrist sessions, urinal stall visits, Sunday school lessons, and water cooler conversation all focused on Ramon’s recruitment, along with similar players in stature over the years offered scholarships as space fillers, as the center of their arguments for a change in head coach. Ramon ended the season playing a total of 32 uneventful minutes over the span of 12 games which proved to indeed be Tubby’s last season at the helm before he would step down and start a career as a burrito artist at Chipotle take the reins at Minnesota.
Tubby Smith’s exit didn’t exactly spell doom for Harris’ tenure as a Wildcat as many would have assumed with a change in leadership.
Enter Coach (Jekyll and) Clyde.
Billy G stumbled into town toting his bottom shelf brand of basketball which prided itself on toughness, tenacity, some other tough words, and its ability to get you drunk. Quick. We all drank it up and to Gillispie, Ramon was one of the prettiest girls at the bar. (I’m still talking about basketball I promise.)
Ramon Harris undoubtedly came into his own under Gillispie’s watch, which in spite of his inability to put a quality team on the floor while at Kentucky, seems to be a constant theme throughout his short coaching career (i.e. Deron Williams at Illinois, A.C. Law at Texas A&M, our very own Joe Crawford and some could argue, Jodie Meeks as well). While I by no means put Ramon near the same category of those afore-mentioned players, the jump in improvement over seasons is all relative and comparable. Harris hung his polar bear fur and seal skinned hat on being a defensive stopper. Presumably for the sake of playing time and the betterment of the team and not to simply avoid the alledged rage that Clyde was often fond of sharing with his players and peers. No matter the reasoning, Harris found his role and it kept him on the court as a crucial player.
In March 2009 after a dismal NIT finish for the Cats, the first non NCAA squad in near two decades, UK decided they no longer needed Gillispie’s services anymore but as a thanks, offered an escorted jog out of town. And once again with any coaching tenure cut short and ending on bad terms, our rabid fan base took an objective look back (yes, i laughed while typing that) on how we got ourselves in this situation. Naturally, true fans placed blame on “unskilled” players (many of whom claimed they could easily take 1-on-1…..im looking at you, Doug) for not living out our on court fantasies the way we dreamt them up while drooling on ourselves with a spacy diabetic gaze in our eyes during Al Purnell Old Folk’s Country Sausage breaks. You Yankees will know these as TV time-outs.
Enter Coach Calipari.
None of this outrage and message board smack talk from gravy soaked fingers typing inexplicably misspelled words shook Harris’ confidence. For he had just withstood the dismissal of UK greats Jared Carter, Michael Porter, A.J. Stewart, Kevin Galloway, and Matt Pilgrim proving he had the trust of coaching extraordinaire, John Calipari now. And I’m sure the fact that Cal had just brought in the top recruiting class in the nation all the while offering too good to be true Papa John’s coupons helped simmer everyone’s giving a shit if Ramon had improved over the course of summer pick up games.
As I type this I am aware Harris has played no more than 10 minutes since SEC play has begun. But I am not one to let facts and stats stand in the way of completing this post. The fact remains though- if 4 years ago we were told UK would be on their 2nd coach since Tubby left and the nation’s top recruiting class made its way to town during that span, one of the first defections we would’ve expected would’ve been Harris. No matter how talented these young freshmen are, I am convinced that having battle tested players like Ramon and Patrick on this team make a big difference in leaving the court with another “W” or not.
At season’s end, Ramon’s college eligibility will be used up and we will no longer see him playing in that number 5 (34 or 22) jersey again. But if I know Ramon like I think I know him, and I don’t know him at all by the way, this wont be the last time we see him suited up and underwhelming crowds in Lexington. There is a special place we put our least favorite retired Wildcats out to pasture. The Kentucky Horse Park to play for the exciting Bluegrass Stallions !!!!!!!!!!
They serve alcohol. Per player request.