Some times there are games that just leave you speechless. And then there are times when you are left speechless for four consecutive games. This is the NCAA tournament, and this is your 2014 Kentucky Wildcats.
No matter what happens Monday night vs. UConn, it must be said that the 2014 tournament for Kentucky represents one of the most entertaining and heart-pounding runs in modern college basketball history. It certainly must be on the short list of impressive college hoops achievements.
These Wildcats have defeated a 1 seed, two 2s, and a 4, which also collectively include the defending champion, three Final Four teams from last year, three conference champions and four teams that spent the better part of the year ranked in the AP top 10.
Beating each of them on the grandest stage in the sport, in front of large capacity crowds and even larger national TV audiences, has made the run all the more incredible to watch. And the way they won these games has been nothing short of insane.
Saturday’s victory over Wisconsin is just the latest in this mind-blowing spree of success for Calipari’s youngsters. Kentucky trailed most of the night, getting down by as many as 9 points, before rallying back.
Faced with a 5-point deficit and only a few minutes to play, these freshmen and sophomores smiled at their own demise and took control of the game. Aaron Harrison’s miracle 25-footer, only the third such shot he has made in crunch time during this streak is but a block in a monument of clutch plays. Granted, it’s a pretty big block. But the other money contributions of this team are legion.
We can’t forget about the defensive prowess and high-flying antics of Alex Poythress. The big shot and get-to-the rack mentality of James Young. The crucial defensive minutes of Dominique Hawkins and do-your-job commitment of Jarrod Polson. Marcus Lee’s throwdowns and Dakari Johnson’s big hands all over the offensive glass. Andrew Harrison keeping his composure and a maintaining a short memory. And of course, Julius Randle’s ability to give Kentucky a muscular post presence, for which no team has yet found an answer.
These Cats, coming into this tourney as a humble 8 seed, have become “the Redeemers” in Kentucky lore. They’ve redeemed themselves after a long season of doubt and criticism. They’ve avenged past losses and recriminations. They’ve regained Kentucky fans’ love of their sport and team. And they have reminded us all that the win-or-go-home format of the NCAA tournament makes it the most magical of events in all of sports, and the stage where the unlikeliest of heroes emerge.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, this has been a run for the ages. Perhaps the most exciting run in the history of this great tourney. That’s no exaggeration.go back