I’ve been doing this job full time for four and a half years now, and I’m not sure we’ve had a crazier day than we did yesterday. From start to finish, it was a bizarre 24 hours, and the wildest part wasn’t even that Kentucky beat Wichita State to advance to the Sweet 16; in fact, that barely cracks the top three. Books could be written about everything that went down yesterday, but let’s start with a wakeup post, okay?
1. Kentucky beat Wichita State
Let’s get that out of the way. It was an ugly game, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel good going into it. The atmosphere seemed ripe for an upset; Wichita State’s players were confident and hungry and Kentucky looked far from impressive vs. Northern. I was very happy to be proved wrong. In the last five minutes of the game, Kentucky’s three star freshmen took over, keeping their cool when Wichita State couldn’t miss and doing all the “little things” to get the W. Why the quotations around “little things”? Because that’s what Gregg Marshall and the Shockers spent two days priding themselves on in press conferences, triumphing their focus on fundamentals over Kentucky’s five-star inconsistency. While I was watching the highlights from UK’s win when I got back last night, I had to laugh at Calipari’s subtle dig at Wichita’s narrative.
“Wichita’s a good team, they got mis-seeded, but our team, we do do the ‘little things.’ I think we are coached where we do block out and we do dive on the floor and we make the extra plays. I was proud of the guys and how we played.”
Me too. Cal’s face after the game said it all:
On this subject…
2. Gregg Marshall is kind of a jerk
Look, Kentucky won, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but this weekend changed my perception of Gregg Marshall. It’s one thing to have a chip on your shoulder, but it’s another to be condescending. Marshall practically bragged about not having a five-star recruit on his roster, boasting about how his players do the “little things” and instead of worrying about the NBA, focus on fundamentals. Losing the game just made him sit taller on his high horse.
“I don’t know, Paul,” Marshall said when asked if this loss would get his team respect. “How many years do we have to do this to make people respect our program? I don’t know. That’s up to you guys. I mean, I know that we have the heart of a champion. I know these guys, how they work, how hard our staff works, how much time, energy, passion we put into this. This will just be more fuel for us.”
Give me a break.
3. His wife is kind of insane
If you’re reading this, you know about Drew’s dustup with the NCAA over his video of Gregg Marshall’s wife, Lynn, at the game. I was a few seats away from the drama, and I can confirm that she was out of control. I’ve heard plenty of loud, often inebriated, fans at games and she takes the cake. Not only did she scream insults and profanity at Kentucky’s players, Calipari, and the refs, she ignored the poor security officer who told her three times to pipe down and stop climbing on her chair (the video really doesn’t do her tantrum justice). After Conner Frankamp banged knees with Briscoe and had to be helped to the bench, Marshall’s wife was livid, screaming things I’d rather not repeat about Briscoe. After the game when we were in the media room, another reporter came up to me and Drew and told us that security was escorting Marshall’s wife through the hallway and she was still ranting and raving about the game and walked past Calipari, who gave her a “WTF” look. Same, Cal, same. So, I wasn’t shocked when I saw the Associated Press report that she had to be escorted out of the building. (Is this the first time KSR has been quote in an AP article? If so, like we’ve all probably said in life, what a weird first time.)
I’m sure Drew will get into yesterday’s drama more on the radio show, so I won’t step on his story. But it was intense, and a major distraction after the game.
4. So, that story went everywhere
I was driving while the story went viral, but if you missed it, it was everywhere, including “Mike & Mike” and “Good Morning America” this morning. I’ll have a roundup of clips a little bit later, but until then, check out all the national outlets that reported on the incident:
The story even made it across the pond, with British tabloid The Daily Mail picking it up.
5. Kentucky will play UCLA around 9:40 p.m. Friday night
All of that and we’re just now getting to the Sweet 16. Because of course, Kentucky will face UCLA in the late game Friday night, following the conclusion of UNC/Butler. I need one more day before I can fully turn the page to the Bruins, but honestly, I’m happy we’re facing them instead of Cincinnati. If I’ve learned one thing about this team, it’s that they are much more likely to “get up” for a rematch with a team that beat them on their own floor than a team like Cincinnati. Plus, UCLA likes to run and so do we. Let’s throw it up and GO.
6. Worried about that late tip affecting the players? Don’t.
John Calipari will gripe about it all he wants, but as De’Aaron Fox told us Saturday, the late tips really aren’t that big of a deal to the players.
“We’re all young. We ain’t tired at midnight. I mean, they had to play at midnight too so it was just whoever brought the most energy. I mean, I don’t think you should, but we were all right.”
This team will be up to play UCLA, whether or not the game happens at 8 a.m., noon, 7 p.m. or midnight. Trust me.
7. Here’s the schedule for Thursday and Friday’s games
Regional Semifinals – Thursday, March 23 (7 p.m.-Midnight ET)
|7:09 p.m.||CBS||Kansas City I||Oregon vs. Michigan||Kevin Harlan / Reggie Miller / Dan Bonner // Dana Jacobson|
|7:39 p.m.||TBS||San Jose I||Gonzaga vs. West Virginia||Brian Anderson / Chris Webber // Lewis Johnson|
|After conc. I||CBS||Kansas City II||Kansas vs. Purdue||Harlan / Miller / Bonner // Jacobson|
|After conc. I||TBS||San Jose II||Arizona vs. Xavier||Anderson / Webber // Johnson|
Regional Semifinals – Friday, March 24 (7 p.m.-Midnight ET)
|7:09 p.m.||CBS||Memphis I||North Carolina vs. Butler||Jim Nantz / Grant Hill / Bill Raftery // Tracy Wolfson|
|7:29 p.m.||TBS||New York I||Baylor vs. South Carolina||Verne Lundquist / Jim Spanarkel // Allie LaForce|
|After conc. I||CBS||Memphis II||Kentucky vs. UCLA / Cincinnati||Nantz / Hill / Raftery // Wolfson|
|After conc. I||TBS||New York II||Florida vs. Wisconsin||Lundquist / Spanarkel // LaForce|
8. Oh yeah, Duke lost. To South Carolina!
On any other day, this would lead the wakeup post. The day just got better and crazier when South Carolina — you know, the team Kentucky beat by 16 earlier this season — did the unthinkable and knocked off 2-seed Duke. Unbelievable. Frank Martin’s squad has been up and down all season, and watching them come together to do the universe a collective favor in the tournament may be one of my favorite things of all time. They didn’t just upset Duke, they were ahead most of the game. Eat it, all of us who doubted them! I’d share the video of their locker room celebrating that’s making the rounds, but the last time we did that (even before the Lynn Marshall stuff), CBS and the NCAA made us take it down, so, just click this link or imagine really happy people in your head. Don’t imagine it too vividly or the NCAA might cite you for stealing their intellectual property.
9. Louisville lost too!
The day got off to an excellent start when Michigan knocked off Louisville in the game before ours. The Wolverines have become a media darling after their wild postseason ride, which included their plane skidding off the runway during takeoff and having to play the Big Ten tournament in their warm-up jerseys, but that game yesterday was something else. It felt like most Kentucky fans were afraid to mess with the mojo and cheer against Louisville for the majority of the game, but in the final few minutes, everyone threw caution to the wind and pulled for Michigan, who pulled off the upset. I took a video of the Michigan team coming over to celebrate with their section, which for some reason can stay on Twitter but Drew’s video of Gregg Marshall’s wife cannot. This one from the Michigan Basketball Twitter account of John Beilein coming into his locker room with a super soaker is also great:
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 19, 2017
Man, Kentucky winning AND Louisville and Duke losing? That alone makes yesterday one of the best days ever.
10. Shoutout to Arkansas and SEC Basketball
This time last week, we were just getting over being mad at Arkansas for their punkish play in the SEC Championship. If they had pulled off the upset over North Carolina yesterday, I don’t think we would have been so mad. The Razorbacks took the Tar Heels to the wire, and many argue should have won but got hosed by the officials. SEC Basketball has taken A LOT of flack this season, but with three teams still in and a 7-2 record, including upsets over Duke and Virginia, it looks pretty damn good right now.
After his team beat Duke, Frank Martin said this on SportsCenter: “The only reason we won today is that our league got us ready for this moment.” Whoulda thunk it? #SEC #SEC #SEC!
Alright, almost 1,700 words later, that’s a wrap. Buckle up and get ready for what will be a wild radio show, starting in one hour.