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The ending they didn’t deserve

For Wisconsin, this game started one year ago. Aaron Harrison’s three burned a hole in the Badgers’ hearts that smoldered until the buzzer went off and roles reversed, Kentucky’s players were the ones retreating to the bench in tears.

We’ve been here before. I’ll never forget watching Calipari’s press conference in Dallas last year after Kentucky lost to UConn. It felt terrible then, but it feels worse now. Like most of the Big Blue Nation, I thought this run was meant to be. I thought it was written in the stars. I thought we’d be drowning in confetti on Monday instead of drowning in tears on Saturday night. But basketball is a fickle game, and even though “it’s just a game,” it’s never just a game for Kentucky fans. Especially this season.

About that game, well, you can point to three possessions that sealed Kentucky’s fate. The Cats had three straight shot clock violations late in the game, three wasted possessions that sucked all the momentum from an otherwise heartening run. In the locker room, the players said the plan was to get the ball to Karl to push UK’s slim lead to a comfortable margin. That obviously didn’t work. Aaron Harrison kept hope alive with a gutsy “and one” with 56 seconds left to get Kentucky within one, but that was Kentucky’s final field goal of the game. With eight seconds left, he tried one more three, but it wasn’t meant to be. No more magic left. You only get so much of that in life.

It will be very hard for me to forget the looks on the players’ faces as they left the locker room for the press conferences. Andrew, always the leader, had his hoodie drawn tight around his face up front, a stone cold killer with shiny eyes. Karl, always mature beyond his years, draped his arm around Willie, slumped in shock. Aaron, always the hero, couldn’t handle his crash to Earth, covering his face with a towel. Reporters and photographers pounced, but you couldn’t have paid me money to take a picture of that moment.

The moment we need to remember from tonight is the one that happened early during the press conference.

In between questions, Andrew Harrison draped his arms around Aaron and Willie, and the four huddled together in one final, awful embrace. Let this be the image you take away from tonight. Brothers in good, and brothers in bad.

When asked what they will remember about this season, the players didn’t focus on the negative, and neither should we. Both Willie and Aaron said they’ll remember being part of a special run with a special group.

“Just being around a bunch of unbelievable guys and the way we all came together like brothers,” Willie said. “You know, we’ll never be on the same team like this again. You know, that’s going to set in. We got a month of school left with each other, and that’s it. So, I mean, that’s what you’ll remember.”

“We had a lot of fun this season,” Aaron said. “One of the best times of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We didn’t finish like we were supposed to. We got beat, so… They deserved the game.”

In fact, as the curtain falls on this team and their dream, the fact that Kentucky won’t play for the National Championship isn’t what stings the most; what does is the fact that we’ll never see this group of guys play together again. That’s enough to break your heart.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

35 Comments for The ending they didn’t deserve

  1. Rixter
    1:18 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    The only real question tonight is: how do you get out-coached by somebody named ‘Bo’?

  2. Mc12
    1:19 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    I truly think vegas should probibit gambling on college sports

  3. Lip Man 1
    1:28 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    To me the biggest frustration is this…four Final Four appearances in the past five seasons…and only one title to show for it despite having arguably the best talent in the nation.

    That’s hard to take for me.

    • cats42301
      3:53 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      not just because we lost tonight but I have always thought that teams should be reseeded after the Elite 8. Just like tonight it should have been UK (the overall #1 seed ) playing Michigan St. and Duke playing Wisconsin. More often than not the Final 4 games are always better than the NC game.

  4. clhcat
    1:32 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Drew fix the video!!!!

  5. Leuther
    1:35 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Agree that this loss is far more disappointing that last year’s when we were playing with house money with an 8 seed. This year we were favored to win but didn’t…

    Still thought we had it until Dekker’s 3…

  6. AndTheDevil
    1:35 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Hate to see the team go out like this. Deserved better. And the refs were a black eye on this game. The shot clock violation in the 2nd, the illegal out of bounds score in the 1st, the Wisconsin’s players being allowed to shove off on every drive or take 4 steps for that matter. We didn’t play great, but those calls sure made it tough to overcome. That shot clock violation completely swung momentum.

  7. WeareBBN
    1:56 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Yes we all wanted the title but guys you got something that will last you a lifetime…..FAMILY… You all added to your family with each member on that team. You developed a bond that, and I know you don’t think so now but in time, will be more important than the title. You are Champions in so many other ways like the way you represent yourself, each other. BBN and UK. Thank you for a great season and for some a great UK career. That said please come back.

    • ukcamel
      3:56 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      Very well put. We Kentucky alum and students and fans, we are bigger than one game or one season. God bless the wildcats.

  8. PatrickSparksDoubleChin
    2:00 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Plus, there is still the draft to look forward to.

    • RealCatsFan
      6:47 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      Ms. Tyler, I think we have a live one here. All the markings of an internet troll:

      1. I’ve been a member of these forums for quite a while, and the first time this douchebag posts on here is after the Cats finally lose a game. You must have been eagerly waiting for this.

      2. Such a clever username, designed to provoke the UK fan base. I guess those 3 free throws that Sparks sank to down your Cards still burns after all these years.

      3. Weak ass references to Cal’s recruiting, World Wide Wes, NBA drafts, etc. Must be a drag to see UK bring in top talent year after year while your team relies on junior college players, foreign projects with names no one can pronounce, and second tier recruits who transfer or get kicked off the team after little or no contribution.

      I think it’s time for you to crawl back under the rock you came from. Hope you enjoyed your brief stay at KSR.

  9. AndTheDevil
    2:56 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    • Katya
      2:57 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      He’s going pro anyway, it isn’t like the NCAA can touch him now. Kaminsky is a jerk and got favorable calls all game because of his “player of the year status”.

  10. cats42301
    3:04 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    a few serious questions. After failing to find much of an offensive rhythm all night why did Cal go to ultra slow down mode when we went up 4 with still over 6 minutes to play? Wisconsin had been making to’s , missing shots and looked tired at that point. We went from 16-4 run to only ONE field goal the next 5 minutes. We could’ve closed the door on them but instead only scored 4 MORE POINTS!! Huge coaching mistake in my opinion! Officials not stopping play and reviewing the shot clock violation in a Final Four game is inexcusable. I assume that it would have been reviewable? I believe that shot tied the game and very well could have changed the course of the rest of the game. It won’t matter but I want to hear someone in charge of officiating explain it. The Harrisons play the last 5 mins of the game. BEYOND surreal! One girl on FB was banned from for posting that they threw the game. I don’t think that but #5 throw away to invisible lob man. #2 left handed attempt at a shot miss EVERYTHING. #2 air ball 3 pointer that was NO WHERE close. For a team that was 38-0, playing for history and a possible NC you would have thought was it was just one of those Bahamas games! Wait, we actually did look more fired up then. I thought most everyone’s effort was pathetic. I am happy for 38-0 but this will be sting a long time. WCS, does he forget he is 7 feet tall sometime or what? He goes from monster to timid mouse some games. I thought it was bad sportsmanship for him to walk of without shaking hands. Not trying to be all negative but as we all know…as I said it’s going to take me a long while to get over this game, not because of the loss because I feel our team let us down with their effort today, inexcusable IMO! Last Adam Zagoria predicts 7 to the NBA off this team. With all due respect, after tonight no ONE single player belongs in the NBA. WCS got rattled by Kaminsky, how is he going to handle it when he lines up across someone like Boogie? I’m not trying to be mean, just a realist. As another poster said, 4 final fours in 5 years is great but 1 NC out of those 4 final 4’s isn’t. Maybe last year we overachieved in the tourney, in tonight’s game we UNDERACHIEVED terribly and it cost us a national championship because we just didn’t show the effort it required. That’s thehardest part for me to accept is that this team that gave effort all season didn’t give it when it counted most and it breaks my heart like many other fans. Sad night indeed!

    • WeareBBN
      5:00 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      I’m not in charge of officiating but it can only be reviewed in the last 2 minutes of a game by rule. I guess they figure the last 2 minutes are the only time something important or game changing can happen. One of two things needs to happen. 1. Make all games 2 minutes long. 2. Change the rule to allow questionable scoring calls to be reviewed all game or not at all. They could say for the first 30 minutes we will review questionable shot clock violations, goaltendings, coming from out of bounds, 2 or 3 pointers etc at the next dead ball. Last 10 minutes if they are not sure they have the right to stop the game on the spot and review. If these rules are in place 2 baskets are taken away from Wisc as they should have never counted.

    • WeareBBN
      5:08 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

      By the way if you feel this team did not give effort and let you down tonight, you are an idiot and need to start rooting for UL or IU as we don’t need or want you. Both teams played well, that first half was great college basketball, something that can’t be said for the last 15 years or so. Experience was a huge factor but something we will always have to overcome the way we recruit. Is one reason I love Ulis, great talent and should be here at least 3 years to give us some experience. We need a few of those guys to beat teams with quality 3 and 4 year players. The year we won we had very special Freshman as well with AD and MKG along with Jones and Lamb as Soph who went through a Final 4. This team was close to the same as that team except that year we had a Senior in Miller.

  11. tombanjo
    3:36 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    that was some horse poop. don’t get me started .

  12. beaudiddy
    7:24 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Season is a total loss. I’ll blame coach cal for having a total melt down in the final minutes of the game. Who cares about the 38-1 crap. Doesn’t matter now does it? Playing in a crap league camouflaged the cats. I’m a die hard fan and to me MY OWN expectations are too high and I cant hardly take it. After all, its just a game. I really need to quit expecting the cats to win a championship every year. I think my heart would appreciate that!

  13. urincatland
    7:44 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    You can’t go into stall ball with being up by 4 points. If you remember we were up by 16 in 2012 National Championship game and Cal came out in the second half playing stall ball and Kansas pulled within 4 points of us. Had it not been for Gilchrist saving the day with that block the outcome may have been different. Cal has done this several times and have gotten away with it but tonight it bit him in the ARSE. Bo Ryan just flat out out coached Cal tonight. Cal is a helluva recruiter but wonder about his in game coaching ability.

  14. wu slang
    7:52 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    No point in obsessing over it. KY lost, I’m interested in seeing what the turnout/emotions are when they raise the 2015 Final Four banner in Rupp.

  15. keiths
    8:49 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    we ABSOLUTELY deserved to lose. you are up by 4 with 4 minutes to go and have 3 straight trips down the court and have 3 straight shot clock violations, its ALL on the coaching and you deserve to lose. pretty simple really….

  16. eyebleedblue
    8:55 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Still devastated. Funny how the platoon system was the big story at the beginning of the year and I don’t remember a substitution after the 6 or 7 minute mark. I know that is our closer team, but after 2 shot clock violations make a change. Ulis saved us with 2 big 3’s and he’s on the bench. But, the 2 points they didn’t earn were the play of the game.

  17. mcp157
    9:25 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Come on BBN. Think of where we were before Cal. It takes a little luck to win it all no matter how good a team you have. We were unlucky today. Cal runs the best oiled machine in all of college basketball. The reason Wooden won so many in a row was because Jabbar and Walton stayed in school.. Those 2, probably the best 2 centers in the history of college basketball, accounted for 6 of his championships. We have the best college system in all of the NCAA.

  18. plumloopy
    9:59 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Hmmm, no the stingy part for me is not playing in the NC.

    I suppose if I was in the media (KSR is media) and had lots of personal contact with players, I might feel differently, but as a fan I don’t get as attached to guys who only stay one or two years. WCS excepted, who stayed at least three. I like them, I wish them well, I’ll follow heir careers, but I don’t feel like I know them the way I guess I’m supposed to.

  19. Bobbum Man
    10:12 am April 5, 2015 Permalink

    The refs were beyond terrible all around… the guy jumping from out of bounds to save the ball, constant no calls while our guys are being hacked, numerous missed travels, a blatantly obvious shot clock violation, heck lyes punched a guy and they even reviewed it and didn’t gibe him a flagrant one, only question in my mind was will he be ejected… Supposed to be some of the best officials in the business and they looked like middle school officials out there, embarassment and such a tough way for the season to end, hope these kids keep their heads up, they had one heck of a season that we’ll never forget

  20. Rixter
    12:01 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

    Wisconsin was actually given 4 points that they didn’t earn, and down the stretch, if we were up 8 instead of 4, could have made all the difference. There was the shot clock violation basket, then another play in the first half that I’m not sure anybody saw except me: Wisconsin missed a shot, and one of their players who was out of bounds came back in and grabbed the rebound before his feet touched the court inbounds, and scored the follow shot. As soon as he touched the ball, it should have been UK’s ball to throw in from the baseline.

    • WeareBBN
      1:45 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

      you were the only one in the world who saw it. It has been talked about at least 50 times on KSR….try reading the threads.

  21. Lip Man 1
    12:38 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

    If there’s one thing I think Cal and his staff need to examine very closely it’s this…in three of the four Final Four’s UK has been in under him the team has appeared tight and nervous in the games. They just haven’t played free and easy. Now part of that is the opponent of course but I think there’s something more going on here.

    Something, be it physical, emotional or mental has to change during the week of preparation for the Final Four because the team just hasn’t responded well. Since UK figures to be back in the Final Four (often) under Cal, this is an issue.

    There’s an old saying, if something happens once it’s a fluke, twice it’s a coincidence…three times? You’ve got a trend.

  22. BTownUKFan
    1:02 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

    People criticizing Cal for going to ‘slow ball’ when we were up four obviously didn’t listen to his post-game interview. Teey were not trying to slow the ball down, they were trying to feed KAT in the post and were unable to get a good look either because of Wisconsin defense, KAT not getting in position or the guards unwilling or unable to make the pass.
    Get the facts before you speak it makes you look less foolish.

    • WeareBBN
      1:42 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

      He can say that but they very slowly walked it up and got into that set which took so much time off the shot clock, then when it was not there they had no time to do anything but force airball shots instead of reposting like they had done before.

    • BTownUKFan
      2:17 pm April 5, 2015 Permalink

      Go back and watch that sequence, the guards are trying to penetrate and get the ball to KAT. Wisconsin closed in on the lane every time they tried and at one point Cal is waving at Andrew to head towards the basket.
      Andrew also indicated they were trying to post of KAT. It really doesn’t matter at this point who you blame, either you are a fan of the Kentucky basketball program and appreciate the success we’ve had under Cal or you are a troll that does not like Cal.