A great Saturday for the University of Kentucky is worth three quick notes from Indian Wells:
— I am very impressed with the resolve of the UK basketball team in getting the win over the Gators. In many ways, Kentucky has no business beating Florida. The Gators are a terrible matchup for the Cats and possess potentially the worst style of play and personnel for this Kentucky team. But even though the Cats’ backs were completely against the wall, they turned a 7 point lead into a 4 point win with key stops, huge plays and smart decisions down the stretch. All of those have been weaknesses for this year’s Kentucky team and that is why it was such a relief to see them have success. Willie Cauley-Stein manned up in the post, Alex Poythress got big rebounds, Julius Mays hit key shots, Archie Goodwin keyed a run and Ryan Harrow made good decisions, all of which contributed to the victory. What looked like a dire situation, a potential Thursday game in the SEC Tournament and a nearly impossible path to a NCAA bid, now looks quite good. Kentucky plays the winner of Arkansas/Vandy, then potentially Missouri or Ole Miss (either of which could give UK a quality win) and a path to even getting out of the “First Four” series. It was once dark in Kentucky and now it is slightly brighter…and a team that has taken a lot of criticism, deserves credit for that change.
— The UK Women’s Team is mere moments away from a SEC Tournament victory that is as rare as a dodo bird for the school. Matthew Mitchell’s team has had an amazing year and I hope for them that they can get it done. The way this team plays, with heart, grit and a strong entertainment value reminds virtually everyone of the Pitino UK teams before they got loaded with talent. They deserve a chance to bask in the glory of competing the last thing that UK Hoops hasn’t done in a long time. Tonight at 6 on ESPNU, I hope it happens.
— The State High School Championship game was one to remember. An epic ending, that included an unbelievable late steal and three pointer completed what was one of the best tournaments in recent years. This will also be remembered as the year that a postseason High School run helped propel a kid to stardom as Madison Central’s Dominique Hawkins has officially become directly in the Kentucky staff’s wheelhouse. Calipari attended three of the four Sweet 16 games and Orlando Antigua attended them all as Hawkins put on a show for all to see. I hope he ends up with a scholarship, both because he deserves it (the kid can ball and has heart) but because of what it says about this program and this state. A kid can come from relatively off the radar and be a part of the greatest college basketball program in the land. It’s like a Disney movie, albeit one that also includes a potentially very good player.
We are in Indian Wells doing our tennis thing and having way too much fun. You can read our work here at THE OUTER COURTS and I hope you will stop by. Whether you like tennis or not, you will recognize Drew and my style and I think you will be entertained. Plus there we have audio of Roger Federer saying “GO CATS” on the UK postgame show. Enjoy and we will catch you again a bit later.