By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
I’ve seen a lot of games in Rupp Arena but last Saturday was special, very special even with all the UK lore lurking in the atmosphere from the time I entered the back door media entrance. The build up started last Oct. 19th at the annual Big Blue Madness festivities and then the season-long grind started Nov. 2nd and finally the first celebration of hopefully three. Thirty one games, thirty one wins and with everyone in the free world outside of Kentucky either telling them they can’t do it, or extremely jealous of them because they are doing it.
Let’s take a step back and review the season up to where we are as we head into part one of the two-part post season beginning this week in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena.
First, the Bahamas exhibition tour last August where Coach Cal dropped the bomb on the Platoon System that virtually everyone including us in media either said wouldn’t work from the get-go or would last only till maybe mid-December, definitely not past the Louisville game. Things went pretty smooth in the Bahamas except for one small bump in the road when the team was exhausted from playing six games in eight days. To start the year out and until the season-ending injury to Alex Poythress, two different groups of five-member teams played four- to five-minute intervals the entire first half and most of second half of each game and five of those games were against Top 25-type teams. After that bump in the road with Poythress with approximately 2 1/2 months to go, Cal went with nine players averaging at least 15 minutes each and seven of those players averaged between 11.0 to 7.0 points per game.
We may be in the "One and Done" age folks but absolutely no egos in this group of McDonald’s All-Americans.
If you’ve been a loyal reader of this column over the last 11 years, you will know I rarely use the word never. You can mark this one down. We will never see this again, sports fans. We may see another undefeated regular season down the road but can’t make myself believe with the world that we live in we’ll see another group, especially a college basketball team this young and insanely talented as these athletes are yet as unselfish as this group of players have been, just don’t see it happening again.
To me that’s what made it so special in that how it was done. This team doesn’t even have a "go to" man, let alone a 20 ppg. superstar and every player, including the upperclassmen who ditched the NBA draft last spring as well as the incoming diaper dandies who all knew what the cards were on the table when they signed up. No, we won’t see it again and if you want something to remember the season by, you better start picking them up, beginning in Nashville because if this thing plays out like I think it will by the time we get to Indianapolis, there may not be any souvenir memorabilia to salvage.
Blue Flu May Hit Across Commonwealth Friday
As we head into the post season and the games get just a tad more intense and exciting, the tip off times of some games may lead to some shortages of various different work forces and businesses across the Commonwealth due to Big Blue Nation's loyalty to Cal and his boys. For example, games won’t always be on weekday nights or Saturday & Sunday afternoons. This coming Friday UK’s first game in the SEC tourney will tip off at 1:00 ET on the SEC TV Network against the winner of Alabama-Florida game. Then the two weekend games on Saturday/Sunday will tip off at 1:00 p.m. as well. Also, it’s pretty much a given that UK will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney and be placed in Louisville the first weekend where it’s already been established as a Thursday/Saturday first-round site so more tough decisions for Big Blue Nation to make between work or watching the Cats.
Oh yes, by the way, if you don’t have tickets yet to the Louisville round, good luck! My suggestion would be to just wait outside Yum Center doors when the fans, whose favorite team had lost early Thursday, are going home.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK sports or KHSAA sports. You can also follow me on Twitter at @combsbrothers5.