March 29, 2014
First of all Great Game by the Louisville Cardinals. Classy Move by Russ Smith to visit the UK locker room after the game. I have much respect for Russ Smith, and the other players from the Cardinal team as well. Russ will go down as an all time favorite in Louisville history and a player that the Kentucky fan base really couldn’t learn to hate. Now on to the game. All week I felt Kentucky was a bad match-up for Louisville, and although the experts where selecting Louisville to win the game, I felt Kentucky had a chance to end the run of the Cardinals. As game day grew closer and closer I felt less confident about what the outcome might be. I begin trying to convince myself that it would be an easy game, knowing in my heart I felt we could get beat. I just wanted the game to get here and get over for my nerves sake. 2:30 pm… Two friends and I head up 65 north to get a jump on traffic to arrive 2 hours before the game between Michigan & Tennessee. Upon arrival, and after grabbing a bite to eat at the Circle Mall, we head over to Lucas Oil Stadium to get familiar with our seating location. The game between Michigan and Tennessee didn’t really have any energy from the fan bases on site, so in my mind it didn’t feel like I was watching a Sweet 16 NCAA tournament game. I begin to walk around the stadium to get familiar with the surroundings. One thing that stood out to me was that the Louisville fans seemed to outnumber the Big Blue Nation within Lucas Oil Stadium. It was close, maybe 55% 45% Louisville, or maybe 50/50 by game time, but Louisville Red was definitely represented well. As Michigan and Tennessee ticked down to the last few seconds all fan-bases began to huddled around the TV’s posted throughout Lucas Oil Stadium to view the ending of the under card before the start of the main event. Buzzer sounds, Kentucky and Louisville players hit the court, and the stadium gets very loud. This was the atmosphere I was waiting for. It was electric. I head over to my seat in the 300 level. Good seats, with a perfect angle of the game. I missed the tip and the game is still 0-0 when I finally sit down and settle in on the game at hand. After Luke Hancock hits the 3 and starts doing that thing to his head the score was 8-4. It was then I knew this young Kentucky team was in for a war. The intensity and energy level favored the Cardinals. Card-Nation begins to celebrate. While the Big Blue Nation sat in silence, I kept clapping trying to keep everyone calm to show that we were OK. Kentucky then gets down 18-5. At that point, I didn’t know were this game was heading. The Louisville fans were very loud, some obnoxious, but celebratory at what they were witnessing. I remember saying to some big blue fans around me, ” This is their moment, we will have a chance to have our moment” I also believed that Kentucky couldn’t go into the locker room down double digits to have a chance to win this game. The young Cats had to find a way to be down only 4 points by the half in my opinion. With out the commentary, and no good WI-FI signal, I didn’t know what was going on with Willie Cauley-Stein. I thought he was in foul trouble. As UK starts chipping away at the lead, Julius Randles gets on another poster by Russ Smith. Every fan base represented goes oooooh. Kentucky just couldn’t find a way to get over the hump which kept the momentum swinging in the Cardinals favor. When Kentucky had a chance to take the lead, and went into the half only down 3, I felt Louisville had won the battle, but Kentucky gave itself a chance to win the war. (No Disrespect to the Military, and thanks for your service). It’s halftime, which was rest room line time for me. Louisville fans were a little rattle about not being up more, and the Kentucky fans felt great only being down 3 points at the half. Once I found out Willie Cauley-Stein wasn’t going to return for the 2nd half, I started to doubt that this team could pull the victory out. I knew what Willie meant to our defense, and I felt Dakari wasn’t use to playing majority of the mins from the 5 position. This favored the Cardinals. 2nd half begins. As both teams tried to gain control of the game, I began in my head to plan my exit route from the stadium. Walking out of the stadium with U of L fans celebrating in my face would be too much for me if they were going to win this game. The score is 54 -50 Louisville, James Young drives the lane and gets a charging call. Louisville has possession. At this point, which was around the 8 min mark, I tell one of the UK fans next to me, I was moving to a different section, knowing I was really heading to the parking lot to listen to the rest of the game from the car. DON’T JUDGE ME! This game was too much of a roller coaster. My heart was beating fast, I was getting winded without playing a minute on the court, plus I wanted to be a good sport to all Louisville fans if the outcome of the game was imminent in their favor. As I exit the building, the score is 52-56 Louisville. I look up at Lucas Oil Stadium and take the above picture. I start making my walk towards the car which is about 2 blocks away from the stadium. I hear a roar from fans in a near-by bar, I look in the window and see a replay of Luke Hancock hitting a 3 to put the Cards up 59-52. I didn’t how much time was on the clock, but I felt it might be over at this point. I continue to walk. I approach another Indy bar, and hear another roar of fans. I peek into this window that has blinds, and I see the score of 66-61 Louisville. I was proud of this young Kentucky team for not laying down and just giving the game to Louisville. Louisville was still in control in my opinion. I make it to the car, turn on the radio and Julius Randle pulls the score within 3 points 63-66 Louisville. This Young Kentucky team was giving itself a chance. How could I leave the stadium were my thoughts? I should have stayed and watched the outcome. I opened the driver door of the SUV and turn the radio up loud. Poythress for a score AND1. Alex Poythress converts the free-throw leaving the score tied 66-66. Can Kentucky win this game enters my mind? You out of all people doubted your boys when you kept the faith all season. I was upset at myself for planning an exit route. After Aaron Harrison’s 3 put the Cats up 2 70-68, I started going CRAZY in the empty parking lot of Indianapolis Indiana. I was extremely nervous about Louisville hitting a buzzer beater for the tie that never came. After Aaron sealed the deal with 2 free-throws with 2.3 seconds left, had me running through the parking lot screaming, jumping, and yelling at the end of a Great Game that I paid money not to witness. Cards and Cats fans should not be mad at each other for the outcome of this game. I believe we should direct that energy of the Rivalry towards the NCAA Committee for putting us in the same region. This game deserved to be in the Championship game in North Texas. Good Game and hats off to the best college basketball Rivalry in the Nation.