Here is a fun game to play. Somewhere in this picture is your boy Matt Jones, trying his hardest to will Calathes into a miss. Can you find him?
There was a lot going on in Rupp last night…..both on and off the court…..Beisner broke down the game on the court. Here are some notes from off….
— I touched on this last night, but as Pat Forde wrote on ESPN today, last night was in many ways about the fans in the building. The notoriously late-arriving Big Blue crowd was there early and buzzing with anticipation. The Erruption Zone was filled an hour before the game. The crowd wanted desperately to be excited giving Joe B. Hall and Tom Hammond standing ovations that lasted longer than usual. After the tip, the crowd had loud audible groans at the early slow play. And then in the second half, the place became magical. Kevin Galloway’s dunk awoke the masses. The Dancing Guy in the stands had the crowd enthralled and clapping in a singular rhythm unlike any other. Hodge’s ejection caused massive rage, Patterson’s injury turned the arena into a funeral-like silence and respect, Meeks’ three made the roof blow off and the Calathes foul caused a collective gasp and booing frenzy like no other. But then came the free throws….and as I stated last night and Forde mentioned in his column, Rupp was never louder than during those 30 seconds. I have never heard the building bring out such noise in one collective burst. It was quite an event and one the Big Blue Nation deserves credit for helping occur.
— Lots will be said about Nick Calathes (and the Intern hit it dead-on that he is a ringer for Butthead), but the kid can play. This Florida team is lacking in talent and playmakers in ways that are surprising to see in person. But Calathes is the truth….yes he missed those free throws, but the kid plays with a lot of fire and is better than I have given him credit for in the past.
— Speaking of better, can we say hello to Kevin Galloway? We have been pining for his playing time on this site for weeks and we finally got our wish. But who would have imagined flirting with a triple-double? Afterwards Gillispie noted that he had never seen a game before in which one player coming off the bench so completely changed the tempo and tone of the game with his entrance. Galloway answers UK’s difficulties at the three….combining the defense of Harris (without the offensive limitations) and the ability to score like Miller (without the defensive difficulties). Add to it the fact that he can get in transition so well….and he can be the answer this team needs. Billy said that he has told Galloway to be ready for his time to come….and as Kevin ran off the court, Coach Webster grabbed him by his head and said, “I told you this would happen.” Maybe he meant the game, or maybe he meant the playing time, but whichever it was, Galloway made it happen.
— And how about Meeks shot? When the Cats called timeout, everyone in the stands around me said the same thing…..”just let Meeks shoot.” He is an amazing offensive player and one that you just expect to do the perfect thing. Down the stretch he took an off night and made it an historic finish. What more can you ask?
— Speaking of the last play, Gillispie said that Galloway was attempting to come up with a play. Clyde said that in the huddle Galloway suggested that if he faked a handoff to Meeks, he could have an open layup. Gillispie joked, “I told him not to press his luck…just had it to Jodie.” Good stuff.
— We had yet another Jeanine Edwards moment last night as Gillispie did his thing at halftime yet again. I couldnt hear it as it was happening, but I was with some media folks who all said, “well that seemed to go better.” But I knew different….I saw that Clyde smirk and I knew there had to be some comment. Moments later, texts came in from everywhere relaying what was said. The two of them truly have chemistry dont they? (In all actuality I talked to Jeanine for a bit and she relayed how nice everyone from the Commonwealth has been to her since the incident in Oxford. She said, “the people here are as nice as anywhere around.”)
— Gillispie had a nice little dig about the Rupp fans when he was talking about how loud the arena was saying, “they did a great job, especially since it was pretty late for some of them.” Nice.
— It was old school media frenzy at Rupp as you had ESPN, CNNSI and more NBA scouts than I can remember watching the game. You got Pat Forde’s great hair, Alan Cutler’s superb moustache, Chip Cosby’s all-around coolness, Jerry Tipton’s general cragginess, Larry Vaught with a newly-minted beard, John Clay enjoying the KSR Live Blog leftovers and Ryan Lemond copying my pea coat style. Thats star power!
— Yes, Tom Leach did mention my mom’s cake I gave him on the radio. She was proud
— One of the cooler parts of the night was seeing the passion of the UK players’ parents. I sat in that section and they all were great. I was right next to Michael Porter’s dad who watches the game like a coach, Darius Miller’s father was dressed in his son’s jersey and crossing his fingers while his son shot the key free throws late. Ramon Harris’ mom was on the front row screaming loudly, even while her son didnt play. Patrick Patterson’s father was as intense as ever, even after his son was injured…..passionately screaming for the Cats to get the win. When you watch the players, it is easy to forget how hard it has to be to be the parents….but they are Cat fans through and through.
I cant tell you how much fan last night was. From hanging with the Erruption Zone early to making fun of Alan Cutler as he attempted to drop Mark Twain references in his post-game report late, it was a wonderful night, and one that as Gillispie noted afterwards, “this team deserved.”