And it comes to an end...
We lost in double overtime to a hot Michigan State team whose often maligned seniors had a lot to prove. We sent it into OT with one of the most amazing last second 3 pointers I've ever seen. With 12 seconds to go, Patrick got the ball, shot and missed. Kelenna got the ball, quickly dribbled out to the 3 point line, shot and missed. As 3 point shots frequently do, the rebound kicked off long straight into the hands of Patrick who threw it up with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. It bounced around the rim 4 times and looked like it was going to roll out but went in. Then there was an excruciating 6 minute wait while the refs reviewed the video to make sure his toe was behind the line. In overtime, we had some chances but foul trouble on Chuck and MSU's experience versus our mostly freshman lineup took over. Not placing blame on our freshmen since without them, we would have lost by 20 but sometimes, experience matters and this was one of those times.
I'm emotionally drained. Not only was there the crazy, long game, but one of our guys took a really bad hit in the last minute of regulation, and that was scary. Trainers from both teams ran out to assist. He was on the ground for what seemed like forever. The idiots on the UK boards are out in full force. Every loss for some people is reason to fire our coach and bring back that Traitor who is now coaching Louisville (in the Final Four which REALLY stinks but since it's their first time in 19 years to get to the Final Four, that "blind squirrel finds a nut" analogy is particularly fitting). They start all their posts the same way: "I love Tubby but..." Tubby is one of the best in the game and an amazing human being to boot. He's not perfect but we're competitive every year, and we've had some bad breaks with players that don't turn out, injuries, and even the death of a recruit that have hampered him, not to mention how the Traitor left the program empty of young players when he moved off to the Celtics job.
I'm most sad for Chuck Hayes, who never won a national title or got us to the Final Four, but he epitomizes everything college basketball should be about. There are threads dedicated to him on a couple of our rival teams' boards already, and that is saying a lot. Part of why I like Michigan State is the class they showed when Chuck left the game with under a second to go. Their player (Torbert was it?) waiting to shoot free throws walked all the way toward the UK bench to hug him, as did a couple of their other players. Their coach did the same. There was no jersey tugging or taunting, just celebrating their victory (as they should be). The picture that really started the tears flowing for me is MSU's Tom Izzo comforting Chuck postgame.
Not that Chuck is out reading knitting blogs but just in case, Chuck, I love you. You're one of my alltime favorites. You're one of those rare players that I fall in love with from the second you first set foot on the court during March Madness and the more I hear about you, the more I love you. You epitomize what a student athlete should be, and college basketball needs more Chuck Hayeses. You know what Kentucky basketball means, and not a lot of people outside of UK do. You're not a Californian anymore, big guy. You'll always be a Kentuckian from now on.
Go Michigan State! Go Illinois! Go Carolina! (in that order). LOSE Louisville and lose bad.
And next year, watch out for the Cats! We lose Chuck but I fully expect Sheray gain his strength back and be a force. He's learned from the best in the business in Chuck. Rondo and Morris will continue to shine, and how can any UK fan not be excited about the progess Crawford and Bradley made at the end of the season? Combine with the leadership of Kelenna, Ravi, and Bobby, and we'll be unstoppable!