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- D.J. Eliot counting on Stamps; more on Khalid Henderson, Bud Dupree, Blake McClain, J.D. Harmon, Regie Meant
- John Calipari will have book-signing tour in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, Crestview
- John Calipari has to explain to Bill O’Reilly that Kentucky program has discipline, values to protect players, brand
- Could Kentucky signee Karl Towns Jr. end up top pick in 2015 NBA draft?
- Whether to declare for draft or stay at UK “muddy, convoluted” for Alex Poythress this year
- Kentucky coach Mark Stoops on Bud Dupree’s development, leadership, versatility
- KSR’s Ryan Lemond had it right about Willie Cauley-Stein, who weeks ago said “Why not stay in school?”
- Willie Cauley-Stein to return to Kentucky for junior season
By LARRY VAUGHT
Antoine Poythress thought it was “crazy” that coach John Calipari and his staff had to start talking about NBA draft possibilities with players hours after Kentucky lost to Connecticut in the national title game, but he also knew the time frame for making future decisions made that a necessity.
“You have zero time and it’s hard to evaluate all this so quickly,” said Poythress, the father of UK sophomore Alex Poythress. “I have been trying to get some feedback of my own. Trying to go through this so quickly is a nightmare. It’s just difficult with such a short period of time.
“For Alex, it’s even worse because it is not very clear. Last year (making a decision about the draft) looked like a cake walk compared to this year. It is so muddy and convoluted this year.”
Poythress averaged 5.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 18.4 minutes per game this year. He shot 49.7 percent from the field (88 of 177), but was just 8-for-33 (24.2) percent from 3-point range. He also had only 17 assists and 12 steals in 40 games.
“You can file with the NCAA to give you something back (feedback-wise), but they are so conservative it is not very realistic if you are not in the top five or six guys,” Poythress said. “I guess they don’t want to steer you wrong, so they are conservative to a fault. They just basically give you the worst case scenario and throw everybody in to the mid to late second round.
“You can’t talk to any teams directly as a parent. You can’t sign with an agent to get information if you want to keep the option of staying in school open. So you are just getting information from whoever volunteers to help and some guys might give you nothing but BS. You have got to have a friend or someone who can help and even then they can all tell you is hypotheticals. The school can talk to them (NBA personnel) more than I can or Alex can. So we have to work through the school to get feedback.”
Poythress had some of his best moments in NCAA play. He scored six points in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the comeback win over Louisville. He had eight points in the Elite Eight win over Michigan. He had six points against previously unbeaten Wichita State. More importantly, he showcased the athleticism and talent that made many project him as a high NBA lottery pick before he played his first game at Kentucky.
One NBA scout offered this on Poythress (NBA scouts cannot be quoted on the record about specific players who are draft eligible): “As good as Alex looked at times during the tournament, I just don’t see how he could sneak into the first round in such a deep draft,” the scout said.
Poythress has until April 27th to decide if he wants to declare for the draft or return to Kentucky for his junior season.
“We will let Alex make the decision. Technically, his decision might not be my decision, but he has to live it and go through it all,” Poythress adi. “From my perspective, I don’t have to dribble and go through all this. I just give him my recommendation. He has to make a decision on what he needs to do. I just try to help and gather information the best I can. It’s never my decision. It is always his decision to make.
“I couldn’t imagine him being able to get the same set of information that I can get with him just being a college kid. People will tell him anything to influence him, especially with the evaluation being tougher than last year.”
Alex Poythress would be close to finishing his degree if he decides to stay at UK for another year. His father said his son changed his major to accounting and has several accounting courses he would have to take in the next year to finish his degree.
“If he doesn’t get it done, he would be close. He has been in summer school both years and takes a very good class load,” Antoine Poythress said.
While finishing his degree will have “some impact” on the UK sophomore’s decision, where he would likely fall in the draft will naturally have the biggest impact.
“Where he is projected and the risk associated with it is what Alex has to weigh,” his father said. “The second round is risky. There’s no guaranteed money, no guarantee of anything in the second round. It’s really taking a big risk. A lot will tell you if you have to go as a second round pick, why bother doing. Other factors could lead to your stock going down as the draft approached. It is not an exact science.
“Kids that go early in the second round are probably okay, but if you go 40th or later, you just taking a risk that you will even make a team. You get not guaranteed contract and a team is really not vested in you.”
He noted that a team like the Philadelphia 76ers “has a ton of second round picks” and isn’t likely to keep all those draft choices on the roster. He also said the Developmental League “is not a very good life” for young players who fail to land on a NBA roster.
“That would not be an option to leave school early to end up there,” Poythress said about his son. “He played great the last few weeks and great in the tournament. He was relaxed and played great down the stretch. He made big plays at the right time when they really needed them. He played big, played good defense down the stretch in about every game and played well against different styles coming at him.
“Then again, his stat line not very good. He averaged less than six points per game. Field goal attempts and all were down (from last year) and points per minute were down cause he did not shoot as much.
“He just has a tough decision to make. He’s got to weigh a lot of things. He enjoys school. He enjoys the environment and being at Kentucky. It’s just a mater of getting minutes to show all he can do in longer stretches. That would be ideal for him. He just has to sit down and think and decide (about what to do) before he runs out of time.”
Antoine Poythress said the good thing is that his son is not being forced to make a bad decision because he can return to UK and be the most veteran player — and likely team leader — on another talented team.
“You don’t want to make a bad decision. That’s the most important thing,” Antoine Poythress said. “He can always come back. He’s not out there on a ledge with no options. He just has a decision to make versus having a decision made for him.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
All during the NCAA Tournament, including after he injured his ankle and could not play again, Willie Cauley-Stein kept insisting that he was in no hurry to leave Kentucky even if he was projected as a mid-first round draft pick.
“You meet a lot of people and college ball is fun. It’s not a big thing on my mind to leave, you know what I am saying. If the opportunity presents itself, then why wouldn’t you go. But if not, I am cool with staying a year or two here,” said the 7-foot Kentucky sophomore.
“I don’t really even know what I enjoy the most. You just have like security. Like if you leave, you are on your own. Know what I am saying? In college, you have a whole coaching staff that is kind of like your dad and they are family just like your family. You don’t feel alone like you would if you left and you started to having to pay for yourself. It’s not like you have a meal plan. You have to start paying bills and stuff. That’s a lot to think about when you 20 years old. So why not stay in school?”
And that’s what he is going to do. Cauley-Stein sai Monday he will return to Kentucky for the 2014-15 season.
“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said in a statement released by UK. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”
Cauley-Stein did not play against Michigan, Wisconsin and Connecticut. He played only briefly against Louisville when he heard something “pop” in his ankle and later in the tourney he revealed the X-ray then showed he had a “cracked bone/stress fracture” that he has had surgery to repair. However, Cauley-Stein also said that he thought he might have actually injured his ankle in UK’s opening NCAA tourney win over Kansas State.
Cauley-Stein actually announced he was returning to UK on Twitter. However, Kentucky Sports Radio’s Ryan Lemond learned Sunday that he would return and had posted that on Twitter. He was the only media member with that information that became official about 24 hours later.
“I was as convinced as everyone that Willie was going pro, but when I got the news he was 100 percent coming back I was as shocked as anybody,” Lemond said. “Reporters have sources that you know you can believe 100 percent and this was one. That’s why I was not afraid to say he was going to have good news for Kentucky fans.”
Cauley-Stein has 166 blocks in his career, which ranks sixth all-time in program history. He averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this year and will give Calipari and UK the rim protector it missed after he was hurt this season. It will also give Calipari at least one veteran leader — and perhaps send a message to sophomore Alex Poythress, who is not projected to go nearly as high in the draft as Cauley-Stein was, to also return.
“I don’t want to think how we will be remembered,” Cauley-Stein said after UK’s national championship game loss to Connecticut in Arlington. “I want to hear about it. I want to read about it or see somebody in Wal-Mart that tells me how we will be remembered instead of me thinking about it.
“Our guys last year we were all separated. Maybe three of us hung out with each other. This year everybody so close and you could feel like you had known then all for years when you had only known them for six months.
“You want to leave on joy. It’s so much better if you leave on a stage swinging shirts, wearing hats backwards and taking goofy pictures (after winning the national title). That’s the way I always thought of going out.”
Cauley-Stein was named to the all-Southeastern Conference defensive team when he had 106 blocks, second all-time on the UK season list behind only the 186 Anthony Davis had in 2011-12.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari started a national media tour Monday to promote his new book, “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out,” and admitted he had no idea how many players would leave UK early for the NBA draft and denied reports that he had any interest in coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know right now,” said Calipari on the Dan Patrick Show when asked how many players might leave UK. “We had great conversations. They all have the information. I am not going to meet with them nine times. This is it. Tell me what you want to do so I can help you.”
He later when on Kentucky Sports Radio and said he called 10 NBA general managers the day after UK lost to Connecticut in the national championship game to gauge where his players might land in the draft. He said he even had one player on the way to the airport in Dallas after the title game he told him he didn’t want to leave UK.
“As I was doing all of the other research, they were throwing his name in, and a couple of them told me he could be a first round pick. So, I had to call him back in and say, ‘I know what you said to me, but you and your mom need to sit down and talk about this because here’s some of the information I’m getting,’” Calipari said.
“If you’re in the first round, you’ve got to go do this, if you’re in the lottery, you’ve got to go do this.” In fact, if a player wants to come back, he has them sit down and explain why, like Patrick Patterson did back in 2009,” Calipari said.
Calipari said he doesn’t see any way all eight players that might consider leaving early would do that. He noted they have until April 27 to make a decision to put their names into the draft and that they are “not hurting” him or UK by waiting to make a decision.
“You obviously know that there’s a couple, they’re going to go, and then there’s three or four that are like ‘what will you guys do?’ At this point? I don’t know. I don’t think all eight will leave. How about that? We finally will have some guys come back. I don’t think eight will go, but five, six, four, I don’t know,” he said.
He also addressed the rumor former Kentucky star Rex Chapman put out a few hours before the national championship game that he had been told it was a “done deal” that Calipari was going to be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Obviously it is not true,” Calipari told Patrick.
He said he was “surprised” that Chapman put that message on Twitter.
“You know, every year I have coached I am going somewhere. That is all part of being the coach at Kentucky but that disappointed me in that unless the Lakers told him, which I know wasn’t done … They had a coach. We had a coach. Getting ready for the championship game. I am not mad at Rex. We are moving on,” Calipari said.
Calipari said the rumor was not a distraction for him or the team because they didn’t know about it until after the game.
Patrick asked if Calipari would one day like to be offered the Lakers job?
“No, I am good We need to get this thing to two years (before a player can leave college for the NBA),” he said.
He said on Kentucky Sports Radio that he had a “great job” where he could impact the lives of players and their families and wanted to keep doing that. However, he told Patrick if players are still able to leave school after one year that it would “be hard” for him to still be coaching in three to five years.
“The option is to recruit players that are not good enough (to leave UK for the NBA after one year) or convince kids that should leave that they should stay,” Calipari told Patrick. “I am not comfortable with that and BBN is not comfortable with the first one (recruiting players not as good). Let’s get to two years because that is good for everyone.”
Calipari said even if he didn’t get the top-ranked players, the 50th rated recruit would still think he could be a one-and-done player.
“If I try to talk them into staying, people are going to say I am doing it for me,” he told Patrick. “I give information to families and they make the decisions. I can’t go at this any other way.”
Could Kentucky lose seven players — five freshmen starters and sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress — to the NBA draft?
As unlikely as that might seem to Kentucky fans, it doesn’t seem that unlikely to some who closely monitor the NBA draft.
Start with ESPN analyst Chad Ford who indicated on ESPN.com Wednesday that UK could lose more than the expected trio of Julius Randle, Cauley-Stein and James Young — all projected first-round picks in every mock draft I have seen.
Ford agreed that Randle and Young are “for sure gone” and put Cauley-Stein in the same category even though the sophomore explained after the title game that there would be reasons for staying in school — as well as having several millions reasons (dollar-wise) for going to the NBA. He has Randle ranked as the fifth best player with Young 16th and Cauley-Stein 19th
“The Harrison twins have wanted to leave all year according to multiple sources around the twins, but their draft stock made them iffy first rounders. I’m not sure it’s to the point that they are clear first rounders,” Ford said on ESPN.com. “Andrew probably has the most claim, but he’s not a lock. Another year at Kentucky would help.”
Aaron Harrison Sr. told the Houston Chronicle that he had not discussed the NBA with his sons before the title game and that he expected them to discuss the subject this weekend when the twins likely will come home. Harrison Sr. said about a month ago that he was fine with his sons staying at UK if that was their decision.
NBADraft.net has Andrew Harrison going 27th in the first round with Aaron going in the second round with the 35th overall.
Draftexpress.com has Randle going fourth, Cauley-Stein 12th and Young 17th. Draftexpress.com does not have any other Wildcat going in the first or second rounds. CBSSports.com has Randle, Cauley-Stein and Young in the same slots with Poythress 46th and Aaron Harrison 47th in the second round. CBS has Andrew Harrison as the 61st best prospect — there are 60 spots in the draft.
Most assumed that freshman Dakari Johnson would be back. While he said he had not thought about his draft status after Monday’s national title game loss, he also didn’t want to say he would be back at UK, either.
“Dakari Johnson would be a bubble first rounder as well,” Ford said.
He said he’s also heard rumblings that Poythress could declare, but says he would be on the same first-round bubble as Johnson.
“I think there’s a chance all of them are gone. There are certainly rumblings that direction. But the only three that really make sense right now are Randle, Young and Cauley-Stein,” Ford said.
Players don’t have long to make a decision. The draft is not until June 26 but players who wanted official NBA input have already had to request that and will receive by Monday. Those not requesting information have until April 27 to enter the draft.
Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
By LARRY VAUGHT
ARLINGTON — As Julius Randle rode in a golf cart on the way to postgame interviews with teammate James Young, he buried his heads in his hands as the tears flowed down his cheeks. At the same time, members of the Kentucky pep band waiting in the AT&T Stadium hallway gave him a huge ovations.
Kentucky may have lost the national championship game 60-54 to Connecticut Monday night, but the Wildcats won a spot in the their fans’ hearts with their gritty play in March that turned a disappointing season into a near miraculous season.
The Wildcats were a No. 8 seed and given no chance to reach the Final Four when March Madness started. But after falling behind 30-15 in the first half — the fifth straight game they were behind by nine or more points — they came roaring back and actually had chances to take the lead in the second half. But missed 11 of 24 free throws, shooting only 39 percent from the field and giving up 17 points off 13 turnovers was just too much to overcome.
“I can’t believe what these guys got done together. Talking about a bunch of young kids that just went out there and believed and believed in each other and just kept fighting,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “I needed to do a better job for these kids today, because they needed more help in this.
“You could tell early on they were feeling the game. One of the things we tried some stuff, pick‑and‑roll, obviously it didn’t work. We had to play zone. Tried to get their sweat to dry a little bit, make them less aggressive and it worked and these guys performed. They came back, We tried doing different things, but we didn’t have enough answers for these guys to finish that team. Their guard play was outstanding. But again we had our chances and that’s all you can ask of your basketball team.”
He’s right and that’s why he told his team he was proud of them and to hold their heads high despite the loss.
“We know he meant that and eventually this will be okay, but it hurts right now,” point guard Andrew Harrison, who had eight points, five assists, five rebound, three steals and one blocked shot — he also had four turnovers — said in a much softer voice than normal.
“We had a great run. Nothing went wrong tonight. We could have got blown out, but we came back. We are a team full of competitors, but they just made plays and beat us,” freshman center Dakari Johnson said.
Connecticut did make the big plays this time that Kentucky had in wins over Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin. When Aaron Harrison had a chance to hit a key 3-pointer in this game, he missed. When Julius Randle drove inside late needing a basket, it came out. When Kentucky desperately needed a defensive rebound with about two minutes to play, it went to UConn.
Kentucky got just two field goals in the final six minutes after cutting the deficit to 51-49 — a big reason the Cats scored a season-low 54 points.
“We always think we are coming back,” Randle, who had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists against UConn’s sagging defense, said. “This time we just didn’t quite get it done.”
“We just kept our heads up and just kept fighting for each other. And we had a couple chances that we had to bring it back and we just kept fighting,” Young said as he sat at his locker with tears running down his cheeks. “This hurts. We’ll get over it, but it hurts.”
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart hopes fans will remember the remarkable March journey, and not just the ending. He expects a bit crowd at this afternoon’s welcome home celebration in Rupp Arena for a team that started five teenagers and learned how to play as a team as the season went on.
“I am awful proud of them,” Barnhart said. “I don’t know if you could have four more memorable back-to-back games than we did. Those were four pretty spectacular games and fun to watch. It was really good stuff.
“I probably didn’t see this run coming. Not many probably did. These kids had a lot of talent. People questioned their character and heart. The kids responded the right way with a remarkable run. Don’t lose sight of how special that was because of this 60-54 score. We just came up seven point shorts, but it was still a remarkable run.”
It was and give Kentucky credit for making no excuses. No complaints about officiating. No complaints about Willie Cauley-Stein being out with an injury. No complaints about missed shots.
“They played a great game. They hit big shots. Just take your hat off to them. They played better than we did,” sophomore Alex Poythress said.
Calipari had to plead, push and pull this team much of the season. He said he never lost faith in his team, but he often admitted it had not been an easy year and that he had made as many mistakes as his players. But it was obvious, even in this difficult moment, he was proud of what his team did.
“These kids really fought and tried and what they accomplished, I told them, this was the best group I’ve ever coached as far as really being coachable and wanting to learn. I’ve never coached a team this young. Never. Hope I don’t ever again,” Calipari said.
Then he even showed he still had his sense of humor.
“I think all these kids are coming back, so we should be good,” Calipari said.
That’s not going to happen with the NBA big bucks waiting, but it shows that Calipari truly had enjoyed this run.
“We’ve all had so much fun the last month,” Johnson said. “You hate to see it end this way, but what a month it has been. I’ll never forget it.”
By EDDIE PELLS
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — No conference wanted them. Several teammates and their coach left them. The NCAA kept them out for a year.
UConn won it all anyway.
Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky’s freshmen and a national title hardly anyone saw coming.
Napier had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.
Napier kneeled down and put his forehead to the court for a long while after the buzzer sounded. He was wiping back tears when he cut down the net.
“Honestly, I want to get everybody’s attention right quick,” Napier said. “You’re looking at the hungry Huskies. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”
Yes, it is only a short year since the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.
UConn (32-8) never trailed in the final. The Huskies led by as many as 15 in the first half and watched the Wildcats (29-11) trim the deficit to one with 8:13 left. But Aaron Harrison, Kentucky’s big-moment shooter in the last three games, missed a 3-pointer from the left corner that would’ve given the ‘Cats the lead. Kentucky never got closer.
One key difference in a six-point loss: Kentucky’s 11 missed free throws — a flashback of sorts for coach John Calipari, whose Memphis team blew a late lead against Kansas after missing multiple free throws in the 2008 final. The Wildcats went 13 for 24. UConn went 10 for 10, including Lasan Kromah’s two to seal the game with 25.1 seconds left.
“We had our chances to win,” Calipari said. “We’re missing shots, we’re missing free throws. We just didn’t have enough.”
In all, Calipari’s One and Doners got outdone by a more fundamentally sound, more-seasoned group that came into this tournament a seventh-seeded afterthought but walked away with the program’s fourth national title since 1999. They were the highest seed to win it all since Rollie Massimino’s eighth-seeded Villanova squad in 1985.
Napier and Boatright now go down with Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor and all those other UConn champs of years past. This adds to the school’s titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.
This one was, by far, the most unexpected.
A short year ago, UConn was preparing for its first season in the new American Athletic Conference after being booted from the Big East and not welcomed by any of the so-called power conferences. Longtime coach Jim Calhoun left because of health problems. And most damaging — the NCAA ban that triggered an exodus of five key players to the NBA or other schools.
Napier stuck around. So did Boatright. And Calhoun’s replacement, Kevin Ollie, figured out how to get the most out of their grit and court sense.
“Coach Calhoun, the greatest coach ever,” Ollie said. “He paved the way we just walked through it.”
They were one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally.
Kentucky’s biggest push started when James Young (20 points, seven rebounds) posterized Amida Brimah with a monster dunk to start a three-point play and trigger an 8-0 run.
In the middle of that, Boatright, who shut down Harrison’s twin brother, Andrew, most of the night, twisted his left ankle while receiving an innocuous-looking pass from Napier. He called a timeout. Got it worked on and came back out.
Napier and Niels Giffey made 3s on UConn’s next two possessions, and suddenly, that one-point lead was back up to five — fairly comfortable by this tight, taut, buzzer-beating tournament’s standards.
The big question in Kentucky is what will happen to all those freshmen. Julius Randle (10 points, six rebounds) is a lottery pick if he leaves for the NBA. Young and the Harrison brothers could be first-rounders, too. Big question is whether they’ll want to leave on this note.
They were preseason No. 1, a huge disappointment through much of this season, then came on just in time for a run to the final.
But they got outdone by a team on a different sort of mission — a team led by Napier, who stuck with the program even though he knew the 2012-13 season was for nothing but fun.
Oh, what fun this was, though.
Napier was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and he earned it on both ends of the court, keeping a hand in Aaron Harrison’s face most of the night and holding him to a 3-for-7, seven-point, no-damage night.
He could also shoot it a bit — including a 3-pointer in the first half when UConn was having trouble dissecting the Kentucky zone. The shot came from about 30 feet, right in front of the edge of the Final Four logo at Center Court, or, as Dick Vitale put it: “He shot that one from Fort Worth.”
They felt it back in Storrs, where they could be celebrating another title shortly. The UConn women play for the national title Tuesday.
If they win, it will be the first sweep of the titles since 2004. The last school to do it: UConn, of course.
UCONN 60, KENTUCKY 54
KENTUCKY (29-11): Young 5-13 8-9 20, Aa. Harrison 3-7 0-1 7, An. Harrison 3-9 0-0 8, Randle 3-7 4-7 10, Johnson 2-5 1-4 5, Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Poythress 2-5 0-1 4, Hawkins 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 18-46 13-24 54.
UCONN (32-8): Nolan 0-3 0-0 0, Daniels 4-14 0-0 8, Giffey 3-7 2-2 10, Boatright 5-6 4-4 14, Napier 8-16 2-2 22, Samuel 1-1 0-0 2, Kromah 1-4 2-2 4, Brimah 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 10-10 60.
Halftime_UConn 35-31. 3-Point Goals_Kentucky 5-16 (An. Harrison 2-4, Young 2-5, Aa. Harrison 1-5, Poythress 0-2), UConn 6-19 (Napier 4-9, Giffey 2-4, Boatright 0-1, Kromah 0-1, Daniels 0-4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Kentucky 33 (Young 7), UConn 34 (Daniels, Kromah, Napier 6). Assists_Kentucky 11 (An. Harrison 5), UConn 8 (Boatright, Napier 3). Total Fouls_Kentucky 10, UConn 17. A_79,238.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Editor’s note: Kentucky fan Kelsey Mattingly sent this to me about 2 a.m. Sunday after UK’s win over Wisconsin. I saved it for today to share to let each of you again relive the feeling she had Saturday — and you probably did, too.
By KELSEY MATTINGLY
With exactly 6:10 to go in the game I knew we were going to lose. My sister was laying in the floor, facing away from the television as she had through the entire second half of the Louisville game. But this time I just didn’t know if her mojo would be enough. I had experienced too many missed last second shots and the tell-tale pain of heartbreak was making its way when there was 7.5 seconds in the game. But then it happened.
AARON FREAKING HARRISON. It happened so fast and I’m certain my heart stopped when the ball left his hands and went through the net because Senator, I have no recollection of those events. Thank goodness for DVR. And say what you want, but if you didn’t cry the moment that thing went in for the third game in a row then you’re lying. Every residence, bar, and base containing members of the BBN erupted. The Clutch Cats had done it again.
But of course this isn’t news to any of you. If you’re reading this, you know what happened just as well as anyone…maybe even better. I’m merely writing this to say thank you. Words cannot express how incredibly blessed I feel to be able to experience this in my life time. Because nothing can compare to this. This run. This team. This chance. What we are witnessing will go down in history as the most amazing post-season experience to have ever been obtained by a team. A team that was catching a lot of heat mid-season. A team that starts five freshmen, five “one and done’s”.
To be able to one day tell my children that I saw Aaron Harrison hit the game winning shot (more than once), Alex Poythress completely take over, and Marcus Lee make amazing breakout plays, that will be the greatest moment. Maybe second greatest. Because how many times will you get to see Aaron Harrison hit a clutch three to win the game? Oh yeah…three.
So tonight while State Street is being burned to the ground and fans are up celebrating until the wee hours of morning, I will soak it all in and be thankful. When we all wake up the birds will sing My Old Kentucky Home and Louisville still won’t exist. Enjoy this Big Blue…this is it. We are it.