Have just returned to the Kentucky Sports Radio Compound after one of the most draining days I can remember. Here are some post game notes…..
(1) I always try to start positively, so we begin with what has to be the best thing to come from the game……the Cats’ strong defensive effort. Going into the game, it was clear that the Cats could not get into a track meet with the Gators, had to limit transition and cut down on open three pointers…..and for the most part they did. The 64 points scored by the Gators was their lowest output of the year and after the first ten minutes, you couldnt really ask much more from the Cats’ defensively. Ultimately staying with Corey Brewer was tough, but it always is.
(2) This game can be analyzed a bunch of different ways, but one fact remains…..Kentucky hits the shots they are supposed to and they win. 11-20 from the free throw line, 3-22 from the three point line…..that simply wont beat almost anyone….certainly not someone as good as the Gators. On one level it can be said that the Cats were lucky to be in the game….but on the other, you can say that for a team that had no business being in the game, the defense kept them in it. The last 30 minutes of the game saw the Cats win by 13…..not something I personally expected.
(3) Pregame warmups were very interesting to watch. The Gators were hyped….they jumped up and down, when announced they stood on UK midcourt….not stomping on the logo, but certainly making sure they stood on it. Joakim Noah was jawing with the crowd….including anyone that would listen. UK on the other hand was not their normal self. They seemed much more serious and were significantly less talkative than usual. Now some would call that “focused” (especially if they had won)…..but early they looked tight, and that seriousness may have been indicative of that fact.
(4) I was about two feet from Erin Andrews on a couple of occasions. One of the few supposedly “hot” reporters that lives up to the billing in person. She did however decline my offer to be a KSR girl.
(5) All the national writers were in attendance for this one. You know it is a big game when you see Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Mike Decoursey and Pat Forde there (although the latter two do live close). The media room had the feel of a big game….national reporters talking to local guys about the insides and out of the team (some even slummed it with me). Only the second game I have been to with such a crowded media presence (last year UL was the other) and it is always fun.
(6) I know its controversial to say, but I dont hate Joakim Noah. There are things he does that I dont like (yapping at the crowd before the game, swatting at a cheerleader (who amazingly showed some fortitude herself shaking those pom poms in his face…..call me girl!), and having odd sideburns. But there is a lot I love about him. I like that he is an intelligent, thoughtful kid who cares about the world off the basketball court (most college players wouldnt know a political issue if it hit them in the face). And I love his intensity. You will never see a kid who wants to win more than he does. He takes a lot of crap….much of it deserved (and some of it from us)….but he is an interesting diversion in college basketball and one I like seeing around.
(7) THe ESPN folks are interesting when not on camera. I spent a few minutes around them and Jay Bilas is nice as usual, Hubert Davis is a funny guy, Digger is somewhat of a difficult guy and Andy Katz is simply a jerk (not because of today, but in the past he has been the most arrogant person I have dealt with since we began doing this). Having them around however is great. Digger tries to work the crowd, Jay is nice to everyone who approaches him and Hubert laughs and jokes, even as few know who he is.
(8) They took a couple of the Kentucky Sports Radio Signs. At Gameday, some students took the “Tubby has a Big Pole” and Crocodile Hunter with Joakim signs into the game….and promptly the ESPN people had them removed. Oh well, we got them back and used them later. The “Doug Gottlieb stole my wallet” made the airwaves as did the “Florida 1, Kentucky 7” sign. But all in all, the signs were a hit as we taped the show and we thank all who submitted them, and “Signs Now” in Lexington for making them.
(9) After the game, the players were bitterly disappointed with the loss. These are guys who do not take consolation in a “good game” and you could see that they still believe they should be able to beat the Gators. That is a belief that I dont believe that last year’s team had…..this team thinks (correctly or not) that they are just as good as the Gators…..it will be interesting to see how that mentality plays out when the game is in Gainesville.
(10) Once again I will say, the pre-game atmosphere in Rupp was the best I have seen. I had goosebumps for the ten minutes leading up to the game as everyone, including the bluehairs, stayed on their feet and made noise. When the opening video montages played, the scene was surreal. I have complained about Rupp….often on here…..but tonight showed why it can be so great. At the top of its game (as tonight was), it is louder than anywhere in America. Great performance by the fans.
The loss ended the night on a downer, but it was a great night all around for us. We did our show from the Hyatt (will be up Sunday night) and we literally were blown away by the numbers of people who came up and commented on the show and blog. We thank Kenny Walker, Mike Decoursey and Ryan Lemond for stopping by the set, and all the many fans who came by during the night. Times like tonight are the reason I started doing this, and we thank all of those who packed the house during the show and made it so much fun.