After months of duking it out against each other, the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team say they are ready to face a new opponent not clad in blue and white. The team will get their first chance tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in an exhibition game against the Ottawa Braves.
It’s good to know the guys are eager to begin the season, after reeling from another Kentucky Wildcat football beat down, the game will give Kentucky fans a nice distraction.
“I can’t wait,” junior college transfer Mychal Mulder said. “We’ve been really, really eager to play somebody other than us. I feel like it’s going to be really fun on Monday and we’re all really excited for it. We’re pretty used to playing each other, and we know what we all do well and don’t do well.”
Besides the team, another person has been looking forward to the matchup against the Braves – UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.
Barnhart, a Kansas native and Ottawa University alum, said he was excited to watch the Wildcats take on his former college:
“I’m excited that Ottawa University, a school near and dear to my heart, will have this opportunity. Seeing a group of young men from my alma mater playing in Rupp Arena will be something I will always remember,” said Barnhart, who will be recognized during the game for being named the 2014-2015 Under Armour AD of the Year.
While Ottawa may be close to Barnhart’s heart, I’m sure the AD will be rocking blue and chanting “Go Big Blue.”
Even Ottawa is excited to come to Rupp Arena to play the Cats, with OU head basketball coach Aaron Siebenthall saying the program was honored to play in historic Rupp Arena:
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our program to play the highest winning Division I program in the history of men’s basketball,” said Siebenthall. “Playing against Kentucky in Rupp Arena will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and coaches. We are truly honored and would like to thank Coach (John) Calipari, DeWayne Peevy and especially Mitch Barnhart for the opportunity.”
Marcus Lee said he expects the game will give the guys “new wind” and clarified the difference between practice wind and game wind:
“It’s the beginning of the year, and we have a long ways to go,” junior forward Marcus Lee said. “Some people have to get new wind from not just practice wind but also game wind because they are two different things, and you just have to figure out how to get through it.”
While everyone is excited for Kentucky Basketball season to finally be here, the coaches are taking the opportunity to see how the guys have progressed over the summer and where to focus in the future.
Coach John Calipari has noted he was surprised by this team’s lack of fight and it has been a buzzword that was frequently used during practices and interviews. Cal said he expected his players to more aggressive and tougher on their drives to grab rebounds, gain and maintain position in the post and dive after 50/50 balls.
The game also gives coaches a chance to evaluate Alex Poythress’ recovery who will be facing off against an actual opponent for the first time since December last year.
The game will be aired live on the SEC Network +.
I’m going with Cats by 1,000.