I think its appropriate at this time to borrow a time honored sports phrase from the late great baseball player Satchel Page and apply it as we wind down this college basketball season, “Don’t look back college basketball because someone may be gaining on you, the Kentucky Wildcats in particular.”
Kentucky 78 Wichita State 76, and it had all the makings of an Elite 8 battle that would normally send the winner to the Final Four, but in actuality it just gets Kentucky out of the first weekend.
But that’s the position you put yourself in when everybody in the tribe tries to be Tarzan and refuses to follow instructions from the leader, and you end up burying everyone deep in the jungle, then you have no choice but to fight your way out one animal at a time. Now as it stands, its two down and four more to go if Cal’s boys want to be King of the Jungle like in 2012, but they are fighting like the lions everybody thought they were going to be back in November, they just have a few ugly battle scars from the regular season.
The bottom line is, isn’t it great when a plan finally starts coming together, especially in the world of sports when a team like Kentucky, which has had a large portion of the country pulling against them, not to mention a few jealous folks right in their own back yard. John Calipari has got to be busting inside wanting to say I told you so but to his credit he has yet to pull the trigger on that comment to his many media critics both statewide and especially nationally.
I’ll start the apology line right here, and everybody can fall in behind me since I’ve been critical myself at times of this team and Calipari’s tactics in the recruiting and development department, fact is the man has done a heck of a coaching job especially in the last two-and-a-half weeks.
Many college basketball gurus across America thought Sunday afternoon in St. Louis would be the time you called in the dogs and threw water on the camp fire because the hunt would be over for another UK basketball season. No way would John Calipari’s overhyped and overrated one and done freshmen be able to withstand the seasoned and senior laden undefeated Wichita State Shockers.
Oh, how we were all so wrong!
The game went back and forth like a heavy weight prize fight down the last ten minute stretch of the second half, with neither team having more than a five-point lead, and each answering the other with clutch 3-pointers and pressure filled free throws until Willie Cauley–Stein stepped out from the free throw line to aid Andrew Harrison in altering the last field goal attempt with one second on the clock which would have won the game for Wichita State, only to have the shot bounce off the right side of the rim leaving Kentucky with a hard earned 78–76 win and advancing on to the Sweet 16 round and another match-up with their hated in-state rivals the Louisville Cardinals Friday in Indianapolis.
CBS will televise the game nationally and the tip off time will be announced early this week.
Cats and Cards one step away for another opportunity for trip to Final Four
It just doesn’t seem right that UK and Louisville should have to play a basketball game against each other in Indiana, especially with this much on the line, but with the NCAA selection committee dealing the hand once again college basketball’s ultimate rivalry will come front and center with the CBS cameras rolling nationwide Friday night in front of what is sure to be a sold out, electric crowd.
You can throw out the record books and the earlier game this season back in December at Rupp Arena, other than a glimpse or two for scouting purposes, that game will not be remembered other than in the archives of each schools media guide. All that matters is what’s on the table in front of each team and that’s another trip to an Elite 8 game which makes you one game closer to another Final Four trip.
Just to set the stage for you, there is a distinct possibly that some roles to key players in December’s game will not be the same in Friday’s affair. First of all, Shane Behanan will not be wearing red and black, or any other colored jersey this time, he has since settled out west and awaits transfer eligibility rules to kick in and by all rights, Julius Randle should play 35 minutes instead of sitting out what amounted to the entire second half with leg cramps like in December’s game.
Who knows who the key personnel will be in the game on either side. As we all know, this game, like all basketball games will take on its own course once the ball is thrown up at the center circle to start the game, and substitutions along with other adjustments will be made throughout the entire game.
I’ve always thought basketball on all levels was much more of a simple game than today’s analyst make it. Make shots you win, miss shots, you lose.
But then again Kentucky and Wichita State both shot 55% from the perimeter but UK shot 72.7% from the free throw line, while Wichita State shot only 66.2%.
Raise your hand if you thought Kentucky would win a gut wrenching NCAA tournament game on the free throw line at any time during the regular season.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK basketball and football as well as KHSAA basketball and football.