If you thought Wichita State would come into this game with a chip on their shoulder, well, you were right. Junior forward Rashard Kelly came to the podium full of jokes this afternoon, starting with Kentucky’s “Nike Elite” status.
“They’re elite. You’ve got the top recruits coming to Kentucky. You’ve got the Nike Elite gear. They get all the Nike gear. They’re elite in everything. We are trying to be elite one day too, Nike.”
Ironically, when Gregg Marshall took the podium, he was wearing a Nike Elite t-shirt, which drew some chuckles from the media. When asked about it, Marshall joked that his team only has so many Nike Elite items and as head coach, he gets first pick.
“Yeah, we have some Nike Elite stuff, and I have to take the big stage in order to wear that. We’re excited about [the chip on our shoulder]. Our guys are not your five-star recruits walking in.”
As Marshall and his team reminded the media several times today, Wichita State doesn’t have any five-stars on its roster, and therefore none of the players ever drew interest from Calipari. When asked why Kentucky didn’t go after him, Kelly had more jokes.
“Probably because I’m not 6’11”, don’t have a 7’2″ wingspan, but it’s all good,” he said.
In turn, Kelly said he focuses on the little things, which teams like Kentucky often forget (his words, not mine).
“You just got to do the little things. Sometimes teams like that don’t focus on boxing out, checking down, defensive pressure, just little things that make us great. And I think that’s what makes us appreciate playing and working so hard more because we do little things that end up being a big reason why we win.”
I hate how much I like this Kelly kid. Wichita State ain’t scared.