Title: Kentucky Basketball Tickets - Are Fans Seeing A Program In Decline? Word Count: 616 Summary: Kentucky basketball tickets have been cherished for generations in the Bluegrass State, and the team has long been rewarding its rabid fan base with victories in bushels. The Wildcats have won more Division I basketball games than any other school in the United States, and everything about Rupp Arena reeks of tradition and legendary figures. However, the team, at least by Kentucky’s nearly unmatched standards, has struggled in recent years, and the heat is being turned ... Keywords: Kentucky,Basketball,Tickets ,Are,Fans,Seeing,a,Program,in,Decline Article Body: Kentucky basketball tickets have been cherished for generations in the Bluegrass State, and the team has long been rewarding its rabid fan base with victories in bushels. The Wildcats have won more Division I basketball games than any other school in the United States, and everything about Rupp Arena reeks of tradition and le gendary figures. However, the team, at least by Kentucky’s nearly unmatched standards, has struggled in recent years, and the heat is being turned up on the program and Coach Tubby Smith. A look at the overall health of Kentucky basketball should tell us if fans can expect the team to regain its expected form, or if these expectations are simply unrealistic. Historical Context Kentucky is considered by some, most of those being Kentucky fans, to be the most successful college basketball program of all time. The Wildcats have won nearly 2,000 games overall and seven NCAA championships as of this writing. The team has had a slew of All Americans and Hall of Fame coaches, and many in the area consider Kentucky to be the gold standard by which all over programs are measured. Although there’s no way to quantitatively decide who really is the “best” program ever, and fans of North Carolina, Duke and UCLA would all have strong opinions of their own on the subject, the fact remains that expectations in Lexington are always sky-high. Kentucky basketball tickets are always used with the expectation of watching a team that should contend for the national title that season, and that never changes. Current State Coach Tubby Smith was a bit of a controversial hire when he came to Lexington, but he had early success that included a national championship in his first season in 1998. However, even that didn’t quell critics who claimed he won the title with someone else’s players. The nucleus of the 1998 team was recruited by former coach Rick Pittino, a revered figure in the state. Since then, statistics and results have shown that Kentucky hasn’t lived up to its tradition. The team hasn’t returned to the Final Four since that year, and if they don’t qualify this season, it’ll mark the longest Final Four “drought” in program history. This fact above all others is what’s adding volume to the fans’ complaints. Proposed reasons for this “slump” are many in number. Kentucky’s recent recruiting classes have been seen by many as not being up to par with traditional recruiting hauls, and even opposing coaches have noted a drop off in Kentucky’s overall talent level. Smith’s style of play is also turning fans off, as his style is a departure from the run-and-gun teams of the mid-1990’s that had so much success. Smith prides himself on defense and a deliberate pace, and that’d be fine if it resulted in championships every year, but it hasn’t, so by logical result, the style is criticized. Outlook This is a critical season for Kentucky and Smith. The program in many ways is a victim of its own success, as every year the bar is set extremely high, but this year carries a different mandate - restore “pride” to UK basketball or else. This “pride” will only be restored with a run towards the SEC title and the Final Four. If Kentucky doesn’t make it that far in the spring, the cries and howls will only grow louder, and Smith’s position will only become more tenuous. Regardless of how it all plays out, Kentucky basketball tickets will provide fans with an interesting show this season for several reasons, as things are sure to be interesting in Lexington over the winter.