Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wildcat Roundup

The momentum is with the Kentucky Wildcats and there's no denying that after a rout last night against Wake Forest.

While Coach John Calipari tried to lay down the claims of Kentucky being the new favorite, Mark Story has an article up.
As word spread that No. 1 overall seed Kansas was in deep doo-doo Saturday against Northern Iowa, an unusual crowd gathered around a TV near the media room buried deep inside the bowels of the facility.

As the Jayhawks struggled to survive, female University of Kentucky cheerleaders kneeled, expectantly, in front of the television. Members of the UK pep band celebrated with every Kansas misfortune.

As the last tenth of a second ticked off on the TV and mighty Kansas fell, the UK kids let out a mighty roar.

It's a whole new tournament now.

On the day when the ground shook beneath the 2010 Big Dance, the Kentucky basketball team looked every bit like what it now is:

The favorite to claim the national championship.

With Darius Miller (20 points, nine rebounds) turning in the game of his Kentucky career and DeMarcus Cousins both keeping his cool and playing some dominating basketball (19 points, eight boards), UK blitzed Wake Forest 90-60 Saturday night.

Apparently, among the few people in the New Orleans Arena at the time UK-Wake tipped off who didn't know that Kansas had been ousted were the Kentucky players.

"We weren't allowed to know what the results of that game were," Cousins said. "We were told to focus on our own game."

Said Kentucky Coach John Calipari: "I made them turn the TV off to think about our game. Don't worry about that game. When they went out (for warm-ups), I was saying 'Wow.'"[...]

Said Calipari: "I don't know if we are the overwhelming favorite. Everybody was picking us to lose today. They were also saying we'd be the first No. 1 out. So how do they change those talking heads overnight?"

Pretty easy. Kansas is gone. And Kentucky rolled through New Orleans looking every bit like a championship-worthy team.
ESPN's game recap threw in some quotes by famous Wildcat alumnus Ashley Judd.
Ashley Judd grabbed a copy of the Kentucky-Wake Forest boxscore and stared at the final numbers, shaking her head in wonder.

"It was flashbacks to '96 -- a team that was so good we actually got mad if the other team touched the ball," said Judd, one of Kentucky's most famous fans. "That was a really spectacular win."[...]

Sitting two rows behind the Kentucky bench, Judd was jubilant, happily posing for a photo with four students who had painted their chests white and blue, spelling out "CATS" when they stood side-by-side. And the actress' reference to the 1996 national championship team seemed appropriate. That was the season Tony Delk set a school record for 3-pointers in an NCAA tournament game with seven -- a record broken Thursday when Eric Bledsoe hit eight.

The last time Kentucky had played Wake Forest also was in 1996, during the NCAAs. The Wildcats won that game by 20.[...]

"I thought we had a great chance before Kansas lost," Judd said.
Larry Holder with CBS Sports says these Wildcats won't beat themselves.
Be on alert, Kentucky. You're the team everyone's waiting to gag next.

Sorry to disappoint, though, because Kentucky sure ain't Kansas.

No. 1 seed Kentucky toyed around with another NCAA tournament foe Saturday as the Wildcats pummeled ninth-seeded Wake Forest into rubble 90-60 and laughed about it. Chris Paul could have taken the short stroll from his downtown New Orleans condo and thrown on a Wake Forest jersey and the Demon Deacons still would have been demolished.

It wasn't even 30-point win close. The Wildcats could have won by 50 if they wanted. Now that Kansas is a goner and after two impressive performances, you can call Kentucky the favorite.[...]

don't want to hear it that Kentucky is too young. It's not a viable argument. When you have this much talent, experience is overrated.

Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith doesn't buy it either.

"I do think they are every bit as good as deserving, and all the accolades those guys get. They deserve every bit of it. ... It never hurts to lose to the No. 1 team in the country now that Kansas has lost," Smith said. And he would know, considering he just got pulverized first hand by Kentucky.

The Wildcats have far too many weapons. Experience didn't help Kansas any. Not knowing any better looks like the best option to me. No one said that when then-freshman Carmelo Anthony charged Syracuse to a national title or when Michigan's Fab Five made two consecutive championship game trips.
Gary Parrish called it as soon as the brackets were announced.

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