Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Recently in men's basketball Category

Video: Post-U of L player interviews

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
Andrew and Aaron Harrison speak to reporters at UK's pre-Sweet 16 press conference on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Andrew and Aaron Harrison speak to reporters at UK's pre-Sweet 16 press conference on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Story by Eric Lindsey and Guy Ramsey

INDIANAPOLIS - Even if his team was billed as the top team in the country to start the year, and even if there were beliefs that his team could go undefeated, don't tell John Calipari that his 10-loss group failed to meet expectations.

"It wasn't disappointing," Coach Cal said.

But he didn't mind people talking about the disappointment when his players were struggling because "that's what they had to hear."

"They had to hear how bad they were as players, how selfish they were," he said. "(People said), 'They're not together. This isn't a team. You can't do this. This is what's wrong.' They had to deal with that."

Calipari seemed to hint that the criticism brought his team together, and after hitting rock bottom against South Carolina, it appears to be true.

"Instead of separating, they stuck together," Calipari said. "They kept believing in one another. They kept believing in the staff and wanted answers, how do we get this right and accepts answers. So I'm proud of them."

Coach Cal said the adversity has made his team stronger and one of the most dangerous teams left in the tournament.

"I told them, 'Of any team that's still standing, there's no one that's gone through what you have to be strong enough and have enough character when adversity hits,' " Calipari said. "Because every one of us still playing, there's going to be adversity hitting these games. It's can you hold on to the rope? Can you continue to move forward even though the fluff looks a little bleak? And I think this team's been through enough that they can do that."

Randle looking forward to playing full game vs. U of L

The way the Kentucky Wildcats played without Julius Randle in the second half of the regular-season meeting with Louisville, Randle's teammates hardly noticed that he only played four minutes.

"I feel like once he went out, everybody else stepped up," Alex Poythress said. "That's just how it is on this team. If one guy goes down, the train keeps moving."

The train should have its locomotive for the full 40 minutes in Friday's Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville.

Since missing most of the second half in the Dec. 28 meeting with cramping in his legs, Randle hasn't had any more issues. Even before the U of L game Randle had problems, leaving the press conference in the Michigan State game with cramps.

"I hope that's behind me," Randle said.

If it is, it's because Randle has made a few lifestyle adjustments. He said he's eating better now, getting more rest and drinking more fluids.

"I haven't cramped up in a while," Randle said. "Knock on wood."

Randle scored 17 first-half points against the Cardinals in the first game before his legs gave out. His absence, coupled with Montrezl Harrell's first-half foul trouble, deprived fans of what should be a fantastic battle of the big men Friday.

"I don't know if it was a mismatch or anything," Randle said of his first-half success. "I was just kind of feeling it."

Randle said he's looking forward to playing a full game against U of L this time around.

"I hope so," Randle said. "God willing."

Harrisons key to limiting U of L transition game

Willie Cauley-Stein admits it: UK's transition defense has been far from perfect.

"That's kind of always been our little kryptonite throughout the season was transition defense," Cauley-Stein said.

Cauley-Stein says UK has improved, though Wichita State made the Cats pay for not getting back on numerous occasions in the Wildcats' memorable 78-76 win. Louisville will look to do the same on Friday night.

The Cardinals are more than capable, and it begins with Russ Smith and Chris Jones. The two small  guards turn defense -- U of L is second in the country in defensive turnover rate -- into offense as quickly as anyone in the country.

That means Andrew and Aaron Harrison will need to be ready for the challenge after they committed seven combined turnovers in their regular-season matchup with Louisville.

From what Smith has seen, he expects they will be.

"With the amount of minutes that they've played at the guard position, and in February they've become sophomores, January they've become sophomores, they're not freshmen anymore," Smith said. "They've improved on their decision-making, getting into the lane."

Last (fresh)men standing

UK's highly touted group of newcomers has been among a handful of freshmen to garner national headlines this season.

They began the season ranked No. 1, but were eventually surpassed by the likes of Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Duke's Jabari Parker, and Syracuse's Tyler Ennis. When the Cats fell out of the polls altogether near the regular season's end, pundits were ready to label the group a flop.

A few weeks later, it's Julius Randle, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, and Dakari Johnson who are still playing.

"Seems like we stuck together during hard times and listening to Coach, I guess, and just brought us here this far and we're going to keep listening to him," Young said.

Of's top five players in the 2013 class, only Randle and Arizona's Aaron Gordon are still playing. Among's top 11, only Gordon and Florida's Chris Walker and Kasey Hill are still alive alongside UK's five freshman starters.

It's also worth noting that the other 15 teams that have advanced to the Sweet 16 start four freshmen combined, according to Cats Illustrated's Brett Dawson.  The four are Gordon, Virginia's London Perrantes, Michigan's Derrick Walton and Iowa State's Monte Morris.

Andrew Harrison's elbow better than it was

Andrew Harrison hardly showed it with his sparkling play against Wichita State, but that right elbow of his, which he injured two days earlier in the win over Kansas State, was barking the next day.

"Very sore," Andrew Harrison said. "I could barely move it."

Don't worry, Kentucky fans, Andrew Harrison will play Friday, and the freshman point guard sounds as if he will be much closer to 100 percent than he was against the Shockers.

"It's better," he said. "It's still a little sore but I'm icing it. It's fine."

Andrew Harrison said he will wear the arm sleeve over his elbow again, partly to protect his elbow and part for superstition.

"(The sleeve) has like a pad on it so if I do hit it again, it won't really affect me," he said.

To bring you more expansive coverage, and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at and, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

UK held an open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK held an open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Going on three weeks now, John Calipari has turned his basketball practices into football workouts.

To adjust to his team's inability to finish through contact as officiating returned to its more relaxed, let-them-play emphasis, Coach Cal has brought out pads in practice, told his guys to make contact with their hands up and just play more physical.

With Louisville, arguably the most physical defensive team in the country, standing in Kentucky's way in the Sweet 16, Coach Cal ramped up intensity even more so this week.

"It's been as tough as any practice," Andrew Harrison said. "Coach has definitely been pushing us and he wants to make sure we're not satisfied."

Specifically, to prepare his team for U of L's pressure defense, he's told Jarrod Polson, Dominique Hawkins and EJ Floreal, who match up with the first-team guards in practice, to foul the starters.

"We have free reign to foul them as much as we can," Polson said. "There's no referees in practice so we're grabbing them, pushing them, pulling them."

The hope is, as Polson explained, is to prepare the Wildcats for Louisville's smothering defense, which ranks second in the country in steals with 10.1 per game.

"The hope is that if they can handle that when we're actually really fouling then they can handle that in the games when there's referees," Polson said.

How the game will be called will go a long way in determining just how aggressive Louisville can be with its defense. In the game in Lexington, 25 fouls were called on the Cardinals, neutralizing a bit of what they like to do defensively.

"They definitely have a defense that pressures the ball and tries to get up in you," Polson said. "I guess if they do call it tight that would be to our advantage."

John Calipari hinted on his weekly radio show Monday night that the officials are going to let the two teams play.

"Here's what the key is," Calipari said Monday. "Can you play through physical play? Can you get open? Can you catch balls? Can you drive when play is physical? At this point, critical."

If the game turns physical, Coach Cal said that's fine. He said his team has adapted and learned how to play grind-it-out games over the last month like it did against Kansas State, and when the situation calls for it, like it did against Wichita State, it can win a shootout.

In the first meeting with Louisville, Kentucky turned the ball over just 11 times, a surprising stat for a team that has struggled with them this season, especially against a defense like U of L's.

As a matter of fact, the Cardinals' minus-one turnover margin in the regular-season meeting was one of only two games this season in which Louisville has been on the wrong side of the turnover battle. The Cardinals lead the country in turnover margin at plus-6.8 per game.

But to a man, players in both locker rooms insisted these are two different teams from the ones that faced each other on Dec. 28 in Rupp Arena. And defensively, Louisville looks more like the Rick Pitino teams of old than the one that UK's guards, who were still finding their way at the time, had few problems against.

The Cardinals said it took time for their new additions to adjust to Pitino's defense, particularly the matchup zone.

"The more we play it the better we're getting at it," Luke Hancock said. "So guys are making their rotations when they're supposed to be getting in there, boxing out when they're supposed to be. Early on in the year you just don't make those rotations, especially with new guys coming into your defense because it's not the easiest thing in the world to pick up."

To bring you more expansive coverage, and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at and, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

John Calipari will lead UK into a Sweet 16 matchup with Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) John Calipari will lead UK into a Sweet 16 matchup with Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
INDIANAPOLIS -- To hear John Calipari and Rick Pitino tell their side of story, their relationship is the same as it ever was: They're friends.

Yes, friends.

That was Coach Cal's description of the relationship of the two coaches tasked with guiding the most heated rivalry in college basketball - sorry, Duke-North Carolina -- on Thursday prior to their teams' meeting in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis.

"The stuff that they're at each others' throats, it's just not accurate," Calipari said.

Not only were they not lobbing grenades at each other Thursday, Calipari said they've bounced information off each other during this season.

"We were in touch throughout the year, back and forth," Coach Cal said. "He'd throw something at me, I'd throw something at him. Different things about our teams."

Take that for what's it's worth, but it's certain the two won't be sharing information this week.

When Kentucky-Louisville meet at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday, the "friendship" will cease to exist for the night. At stake will be the chance to advance to the Elite Eight. For the other coach, the losing one, the season will end.

So, to a degree, there is a rivalry between the two coaches. The nature of their jobs creates it.

Whether there is a genuine friendship, a behind-the-scenes dislike for one another or just mutual indifference, the two must compete on a regular basis for the crown of one of the most competitive basketball states in America.

It just so happens that in two of the last three seasons, the two Bluegrass titans have collided in the NCAA Tournament, only further intensifying the rivalry and spotlight on the relationship between the two coaches.

"You know, I think that hurts a little because you all (the media) bait and try to get certain answers out of us," Pitino said. "And if John says, 'I like a certain thing,' some people think he's taking a shot at me, vice versa. ... We understand what takes place between the lines. We understand the fans' intensity, but we don't personalize our battles. We understand what's it's all about."

Pitino said the two first met when Calipari was just a teenage camper at the Five-Star Basketball Camp. Since then, both of their careers have taken similar paths, crossing each other at turns along the way.

Both made meteoric rises at schools that had relatively little success before their arrivals (Calipari at UMass, Pitino at Providence), both coached at Kentucky, both left college to try their luck in the NBA (Coach Cal with the Nets, Pitino with the Celtics), and both have taken three different schools to the Final Four - coincidently (and ironically), the only coaches to do so.

During their brilliant careers, they've coached across from each other as heated competitors. Calipari's UMass team lost to Pitino's UK group in the 1996 Final Four after beating Cats earlier that season. Then the two wound up across from each other as Conference USA rivals when Pitino took the Louisville job and Calipari went to Memphis.

Now, they're the two biggest figures in the biggest rivalry in college basketball.

And so, on Thursday, knowing full well where the two came from and how intertwined their history and success has actually been, the two heaped praise at one another.

"I know that he's a great coach," Calipari said. "He's done it at different programs. His kids play with great energy and they play with confidence, and it's every year."

Was some of the praise an attempt to take the microscope off their relationship and, to a greater degree, the rivalry game on Friday? Maybe. But we'll never know.

And without knowing, all anyone can report is the two coaches had nothing but sunshine and roses for each other Thursday. Pitino went as far as to defend the "one-and-done" criticism Calipari gets blasted with so often for developing kids into NBA-ready prospects.

"He's one of the premier coaches in our game," Pitino said. "Has always been. The thing that I remember most about John, because I've known him since he was 15, is he always didn't have one-and-dones. He had a team at Massachusetts, and I knew where he took them from to today.

"He had the least amount of talent on the court when he went out there (and still won). And he didn't play an easy schedule. He had to take a lot of people on to get Massachusetts in the limelight. I've seen all stage of John's career, and so it doesn't surprise me that they're well at this time."

Perception is the two coaches are heated rivals whose friendship deteriorated long ago. The two say they remain friends.

"I don't care about perception because perception is not reality. We're friends," Pitino said. "We respect each others' programs very much and we're friends in the business. And I certainly have great respect for what they're accomplishing right now."

Whatever the case really is, they're both in each others' path to the Elite Eight.

"We're getting older, both of us, and I think I'm not on his mind and he's not on my mind, so to speak," Coach Cal said. "We all got tough jobs, what we're doing."

UK-U of L: Breaking down the matchups

| No TrackBacks | Add a Comment
Andrew Harrison had 18 points in UK's win over Louisville on Dec. 28. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Andrew Harrison had 18 points in UK's win over Louisville on Dec. 28. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kentucky-Louisville. No matter who's wearing the uniforms, those two words capture the Commonwealth's attention.

But on Friday at 9:45 p.m., it will be the players and coaches who decide the outcome. Here are some of the matchups that will determine bragging rights.

1. Andrew and Aaron Harrison vs. Russ Smith and Chris Jones

You won't find two backcourts that contrast much more than these two do.

On the Louisville side you have two lightning-quick water bugs in Russ Smith and Chris Jones, neither measuring taller than 6-foot or weighing more than 175 pounds. Both can score in bunches and shoot at least 38 percent from 3. They are also defensive pests, ranking fifth and 29th nationally in steal percentage, respectively.

Kentucky, meanwhile, has two big, physical guards in Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The two twins, especially late in the season, use their 6-6 frames to outmuscle opponents and get to the free-throw line.

Of the four, Jones (18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, two turnovers) was most efficient in the first UK-U of L matchup back on Dec. 28 at Rupp Arena. Smith had an off day, needing 20 shots to score 19 points while committing four turnovers. Aaron Harrison was also relatively quiet, scoring 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting with four turnovers and just one assist.

Though he shot just 6 of 16 and 6 of 12 at the line, Andrew Harrison played an important role in UK's 73-66 win. Serving as the primary ball handler for 34 minutes against relentless U of L pressure, Andrew Harrison committed just three turnovers and helped limit the Wildcats to just 11 turnovers as a team.

The twins, however, are different players than three months ago. Andrew Harrison has benefitted from a much-ballyhooed late-season tweak and evolved into a floor general for his team. Aaron Harrison, meanwhile, is operating at peak efficiency. In five postseason games, he is averaging 17.8 points on 50.8 percent shooting, including 48.4 percent from 3-point range.

Smith and Jones -- as well as freshman sparkplug Terry Rozier -- will present a different kind of challenge entirely. Will the Harrisons use their size to overwhelm the smaller counterparts? Or will Louisville's guards use their quickness to flummox the twins on both ends?

2. Julius Randle vs. Montrezl Harrell

As a treat for impartial viewers, the two best NBA prospects who will be on the floor in Lucas Oil Stadium happen to play the same position. UK's Julius Randle (6-9, 250) and U of L's Montrezl Harrell (6-8, 235) are close in size, motor and athleticism, which makes the idea of the two power forwards guarding one another for the better part of 40 minutes quite intriguing.

Statistically speaking, Randle has the edge as a rebounder, ranking in the top 50 nationally in both offensive- and defensive-rebounding rate. Harrell, meanwhile, is a stronger defender on paper, coming close to doubling Randle in both steal and block rate. Offensively, Randle bears a heavier load. He is called on to create his shot much more frequently, while Harrell thrives as a finisher in shooting 60.5 percent from the field.

The first time around, we were largely deprived of watching Randle and Harrell do battle. Randle was limited to just four minutes in the second half by leg cramps after a dominant 17-point first half, while Harrell played just six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and finished with an uncharacteristic six points and four rebounds.

Since then, Randle's cramping issues have disappeared and Harrell has become one of the best big men in the country. For those reasons and, Randle-Harrell II will be very much worth watching.

3. James Young vs. Luke Hancock

Luke Hancock, after earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors a year ago, hasn't had the senior season many expected because of an offseason injury, averaging 12.1 points and shooting 33.9 percent from 3-point range. But once again, he's been a force in the NCAA Tournament. Hancock has scored 37 points combined in two U of L wins during March Madness, including two huge 3-pointers as the Cardinals survived a round-of-64 upset bid by Manhattan.

Young, on the other hand, has been quiet during the tournament. He hit some big shots in the upset of Wichita State, but he's averaging just 10 points per game and shooting 8 of 22 from the field.

These two, who each play the lion's share of minutes at the 3 position for their teams, are known first as scorers and it's certainly possible one or both could swing the Sweet 16 showdown with a scoring outburst. However, look no further than the regular-season matchup for proof that the impact they make in other areas could be just as meaningful.

Young had one of his only two double-doubles against Louisville, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with his 18 points. He also had just two turnovers in serving as a secondary ball handler, an important role against the Cardinal defense.

Using his athletic advantage, Young significantly outplayed Hancock on Dec. 28. If he can duplicate that effort against the clutch seniors, it bodes very well for the Cats.

4. X-factors

It's easy to get caught up in matching up starters vs. starters when looking at UK-U of L, but John Calipari and Rick Pitino both manage their rotations well to create favorable scenarios for their teams. Here are a few examples:

Dakari Johnson -- Back in December, the big center was largely an afterthought. He played just eight minutes against U of L, missing his only shot. Now, he's a key presence as a rebounder, energy guy and scorer inside. Against an already outsized Cardinal team, he could make a big difference. Coach Cal has also turned to a twin-tower lineup with Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein much more frequently in the postseason, which be trouble for the Cards.

Wayne Blackshear -- More and more as the season has worn on, especially without the departed Chane Behanan, Pitino has turned to Wayne Blackshear at the 4 position. Three of U of L's four most-used lineups over the last five games, according to, feature Blackshear in the frontcourt, including the Smith-Jones-Hancock-Blackshear-Harrell grouping that has been Pitino's second favorite in the postseason. Playing a 6-5, 230-pounder inside creates advantages with Blackshear's skill and athleticism, but also challenges. Accordingly, UK will need to be ready.

Alex Poythress --
Poythress has become a versatile weapon for Coach Cal. Moving freely between the two forward positions, he can guard at least three positions and terrorize opponents on the offensive glass. Considering the smaller lineups U of L could use, he could be very valuable. Also, don't forget UK outscored Louisville by 20 points in the first matchup with Poythress on the floor. You can be sure Calipari won't.

To bring you more expansive coverage, and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at and, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Darius Miller scored 13 points in UK's Final Four victory over Louisville in 2012. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Darius Miller scored 13 points in UK's Final Four victory over Louisville in 2012. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Darius Miller remembers the epic buildup for the Kentucky-Louisville game in New Orleans two years ago with a bid to the national championship game on the line. He remembers the unprecedented hype and attention the game received, not only within the state but across the country.

Two years later, he's just glad he gets to watch the rivalry and enjoy it from a different point of view.

"I'm like a fan now so I get to sit back and watch and enjoy it," Miller said. "I know what (the players are) going through and I know they're having a good time. It's exciting. I'm just watching like everybody else now."

The anticipation for the 2012 Final Four game was unlike anything the rivalry had ever experienced, which is saying something for a series that spans all the way back to 1913, includes a number of classics and features the original Dream Game in 1983.

But given the stage in 2012 in the Final Four, the unquenchable thirst for a national championship of both teams at the time (UK hadn't won a title since 1998 and Louisville's drought went all the way back to 1986) and the backdrop (Kentucky was trying to the unthinkable and win with freshmen while U of L made a surprise run), the 2012 buildup was gargantuan.

It was a state divided like never before, and Miller can certainly remember the tension and anxiety when he was a part of the team that week despite everyone's best efforts to shield those distractions away.

"We were aware, especially with all the social media and stuff like that," Miller said. "On campus, it was a huge rivalry in the state, so people would come up to us on campus and ask us to win the game and tell us to have a great game and just be excited about the game. We really just tried to block all that out."

Believe it or not, Miller said they did.

"The main thing we had to focus on - everybody that was on the staff, that was on the team, the whole family that we built there - we just tried to keep it amongst each other and stay focused on the game and what we needed to do," Miller said.

As cliche as the "one game at a time" mentality can sound and as hard as it is to believe that the players actually shut out all the distractions in 2012, Miller said they were able to because that's what they had done all year.

With the type of season the Wildcats were having and the goals that were attainable for that group, hype had been built long before the kings of the Commonwealth met in New Orleans. Sure, the matchup in the Final Four only intensified things tenfold, but Miller said they were able to stay focused because they had fallen into the routine of taking everything one game at a time.

"Honestly, it was pretty much the same," Miller said. "That whole year we did a good job of just preparing for one game at a time and treating every game the same. By that time we had already built that mindset that every game was the same. We were going to treat it just like any other game."

Miller said the team took a "step back" on social media during the entire NCAA Tournament run to avoid any temptation, and he said John Calipari never even brought up the magnitude of the rivalry or what was at stake.

"He just treated it the same way he had all year," Miller said. "He never really approached any game differently. He was consistent throughout the whole year and I think that helped us to be the same and do it the same way."

The approach worked for Miller, who scored 13 points and hit a key 3-pointer near the five-minute mark to give UK a seven-point lead after a furious Cardinal run.

In that regard, Calipari will try to take the same approach with this year's team as it gets ready to meet Louisville in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

The buildup this time around doesn't feel the same as 2012, probably due in large part to the stage in the tournament (Sweet 16). But when one factors in the location of this year's game in Indianapolis and the proximity to both fan bases, not to mention the fact that the teams have won the last two national titles, don't think for a second that UK-Louisville in the NCAA Tournament isn't still an enormous deal.

"Anytime you play Louisville, it's a rivalry game, but when you're playing the tournament, take all that that you did in the regular season and everything you have in the rivalry and multiple that by 10 when you get to the tournament," former Wildcat Kenny "Sky" Walker said. "When you think it can't go up or the rivalry can't get any higher, I think that the last couple of years that we see it absolutely can."

If there is anyone who can identify with what Miller went through in 2012 and what the current UK players are going through now, it's Walker.

Walker was a freshman on the 1982-83 team that played in the original Dream Game in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. After going more than two decades without playing each other, the two rivals finally met in the NCAA Tournament in a game so hyped that only the 2012 one can rival it.

"I don't think anything, even if you grew up in Kentucky, could prepare for the hype because everybody had been anticipating that matchup for so long," Walker said.

Walker still paints a vivid picture of the Dream Game from his memories. He remembers a perfectly divided Stokely Center in Knoxville, Tenn., with fans dressed in blue on one side and fans in red on the other. He even remembers Kentucky's governor at the time, John Y. Brown, showing up to the game in a blazer that was half red, half blue.

"That kind of summed it for me that, yeah, this state is divided," Walker said.

Walker said they faced a similar buildup to that NCAA 1983 NCAA regional, but the hype was actually for a different team and a different rival: Indiana. Before they met Louisville in the regional finals, Walker's Wildcats had to get through the Hoosiers first.

Indiana had beaten UK in the regular season, so Walker said the focus that week was centered on getting revenge. Only once the Cats had beaten the Hoosiers did the attention - and the hype - turn to Louisville, and even then, only a day separated the two games.

"Not only were we fighting to beat Louisville, we were fighting to get to the Final Four," Walker said. "So you know, we had a lot of things we could accomplish and we were only 40 minutes away - actually, in the original Dream Game it was 45 minutes because it went into overtime. It was a great day until overtime."

UK lost the Dream Game 80-68 in overtime, but not because the anticipation or pressure got to the Cats' heads, Walker said. Like Calipari is trying to do with this year's team, Walker said his head coach at the time, Joe B. Hall, kept the team's attention focused only on what it could control.

"He's a disciple of Adolph Rupp," Walker said of Hall. "I remember him being very business-like during the week. Nothing really changed out of the ordinary, and even when the game happened he said, 'Guys, just go out, play the game like you would any other game. We're just going to go out here and win. We've got a game plan and we're going to go out and fight.' "

UK will try to do the same this week in Indianapolis, but Walker doesn't envy this year's group in that it has to put up with an entire week of buildup instead of the quick turnaround like he experienced for the Cardinals.

"Look, the coach can tell you whatever he wants," Walker said. "Don't read the paper, don't look at the news, don't watch sports - all that stuff. But when you're walking around campus, you go to the car wash, you go to the grocery store, you're out at the mall, whatever you do, you're constantly reminded of that game and how important it is to people and the fans."

Throw in today's modern age of social media, sensationalized media coverage, and the thirst to instantly and overly analyze everything and Walker said it's an entirely different buildup than the one he went through in 1983.

"I cannot imagine the compression and the microscope that these kids are under now with camera phones and pictures and Instagram and all that stuff," Walker said. "It's probably more demanding on them today than it was on us because there are so many distractions. You can't get away from them. So God bless them."

To bring you more expansive coverage, and Cat Scratches will be joining forces for the postseason. You can read the same great stories you are accustomed to from both sites at and, but now you'll enjoy even more coverage than normal.

Recent Comments

  • Guy Ramsey: The song is "The Mighty Rio Grande" by the band This Will Destroy You. read more
  • Griffin: What's the name of the song that this video starts playing when describing Cal getting ejected and Aaron talking about read more
  • Quinn : It was an amazing run! I hope you all return and make another stab at it. read more
  • Sandy Spears: I completely with the person's comment above. So proud of all the young men and their accomplishments. They have everything read more
  • BJ Rassam: The Cats came so close to winning another NCAA basketball championship. read more
  • chattyone: Congratulations to our Wildcats! They are terrific. All of us just like these young men are disappointed in the loss, read more
  • clint bailes: Such a great season! You guys fought hard til the end. Loved watchin the season! Can't wait til next season. read more
  • Andrea Boyd: you guys are AMAZING! as individuals and as a team. thank you for your tremendous playing and work and attitudes. read more
  • laura n: What an honor and privledge to watch all of you grow into incredible young men. Never enjoyed a season more. read more
  • Amy Carnes: Very proud of you cats you have really grow as a team .You proved all the doubters wrong. And have read more