Yes, I am well aware that this is a football blog. Yes, I am well aware that the game I am watching is basketball. Do I look like I care? (haha trick question… you can’t see me).
Anyway, I wanted to end my sports journalism career at Miami in style and what better place to do so than the mecca of college basketball. This is the No. 4/5 ranked team in the country here. This is a storied program’s return to glory under a new head coach. Oh yeah, and some confused team from Ohio named Miami is playing too. Forget about the fact that I’m covering the RedHawks’ season finale on the gridiron against Bowling Green in two days. This is my real send off: courtside at Rupp Arena.
I’m not the basketball beat writer so you’re not getting any pregame analysis. What am I supposed to say anyway. Miami, who lost to Towson, is playing the No. 4/5 team in the country. Yup, that’s all there really is to say about that. Michael Griggs, the sports photographer for the Miami Student and my wingman for the night, put it this way: “Kentucky is going to put their balls in Miami’s faces all night long.” For those of you who missed that, he means UK players will be dunking a lot.
Wooooooow! UK players just came onto the court. What an enterance. The Miami basketball experience does not compare to this in any way what so ever. I’m not even sure we play the same sport anymore.
I will do my best to sum up my observations of the UK basketball experience so far. When we arrived in Lexington, over an hour before the game, people were already flocking to the game. Did you read that… an hour before the game… people… flocking. I realize I am more or less speaking in a foreign language for all Miami bball fans right now.
Also, there is so much media here that press “row” circles around the entire court, making it more of a press square than a press row. The two tiers of sold-out stadium seating that go right up to the court give this a slightly different feel than Millett. But really I think its just that there are actually lights in here that stands out the most. Never mind all those screaming fans wearing home colors.
I’m not quite sure UK and its fans know they are playing Miami. Perhaps the saw the red and white and figured Louisville. Judging from all the electricity in the air, I bet there isn’t much of a difference.
When the UK players were introduced, they shot off fireworks. For the record, we are inside. Way cool. I am still slightly deaf and totally in awe.
For anyone who cares about the actual game, Miami is winning right now, 11-8. Just from listening to the crowd I kinda thought we were getting crushed. UK hit a couple of threes, which the fans were kind enough to notify me of with excessive roars. But then I looked up and sure enought… 11-8. Weird.
Just from looking around, you almost get the impression that the architect actually intended basketball to be played here. Somehow I don’t get that same sense at Millett. Oh, and its really loud in here. Can someone tell all those fans to keep it down.
Top recruit John Wall just took a tumble and required a on-court medical attention. That sure quieted the crowd. In case you were wondering, silence can be deafening. He’s ok by the way.
It’s now 17-16 Miami. They better stat bundling up down there in Hades. The UK press has frazzled Miami at times but mostly they are hanging in there pretty well. Honestly, though, UK does look much bigger, faster and just generally more athletic. I think they are trying too hard to put on a show right now. Once they start playing basketball for real this will be over quickly.
24-16 Miami. This team is not star struck in any way, shape or form. Miami just got a bench warning for being to enthusiastic. I’m not mad at all. This is great. Miami came to play. UK time out!
33-18. The crowd, who was unbelievably loud in the opening minutes, has been mostly at a murmur as of late. They are starting to get restless. UK is playing very sloppy and Miami just can’t miss a shot.
I know Miami is known for being home to ridiculously good looking girls, but we are sitting right behind the UK cheerleaders and… that’s all I am going to say.
I just peeked at the stat monitor. Miami is 9-12 from three-point range. WHAT!?
36-24. I guess you can call this a come back. The UK fans certainly seem to think so. They are loud again. Very loud. Miami is still up by 12 but you can sense trouble.
OH MY GOODNESS they are loud. They don’t do any actual cheers like you see on TV at Duke and UNC. Mostly they just yell. A lot. And all at the same time.
Some specific observations. Nick Winbush is on fire… as in 5-5 from 3-point land. Antonio Ballard is a freaking beast. He made a soaring rebound over two UK players from the far side of the paint. Gotta be one of the most athletic player in Miami uniform in a loooong time; definitely since I’ve been at the school; so yeah, a loooong time.
39-36 Miami at half. Now it is definitely a comeback. Thank God for the buzzer. Miami looks pretty frazzled right now. Not sure if it’s the crowd or what. The Hawks lost their touch and UK is starting to find theirs. Much needed break for Miami.
After watching all the pregame commotion I really thought Miami would be overwhelmed. All the fireworks and intimidating music and the real basketball stadium and… and.. and… FANS! But the Hawks were not phased at all. Not even after the No. 4/5 team came out firing. Sure the astronomical shooting percentage helped, as did all the sloppy play from UK. But regardless of the score I was just encouraged to see this team come out and compete. It would been easy to get caught up in the hype and get starry-eyed just from looking around. That did not happen and it took UK, not Miami, a long time to figure out that there was a real basketball game being played and not just an exhibition.
Side note of non-interest: Miami has new uniforms and they look good. Still really basic as to be expected, but at least they don’t look like they belong to my high school basketball team any more.
Start of second half. Very curious to see what happens here.
Miami came out shooting ice-cold. This could be bad. At least they don’t look so out of control like the last stretch of the first half. The offense is running well they just aren’t hitting shots anymore.
43-38 Miami. Game on!
Four fouls on Miami already.
45-40 Miami. Looks pretty even this half so far. Five fouls on Miami. As long as we are winning I am going to type the score as much as possible because its so fun.
We just had the first real cheer from the UK crowd. The best part is that its a profanity so I can’t type it. Ok here we go, they just switched to the ever creative “ref you suck, ref you suck” cheer.
Mavunga is at four fouls. Miami is at six. 45-42 Miami. This is a much slower half scoring wise. Favors MU?
48-42 Miami. Just wanted to type it. That’s all.
50-44. Yup, Miami is still beating the No. 4/5 team in the country… on the road.
First UK dunk. Unfortunately his balls were in nobody’s face. Sorry Griggs.
50-48. The crowd is doing that really loud cheering thing again. Wow, this is such a great game.
The UK mascot is hilarious. He basically just goes around and messes with whoever is around. So funny.
52-50 Miami. Like I said, much slower on the scoring side of life this half. No more up and down the court. No more ridiculous threes. Just good ole fashioned half court Charlier Coles basketball.
Hoop, meet John Wall. John Wall, meet hoop… wow, that will definitely be on SportsCenter tonight. All tied up at 52.
UK leads for the first time in a looong time… and hits a three. It is freaking deafening in here. Hayes goes down and nails a three of his own and gets fouled. Makes the free throw. Now 57-56 UK after all that.
59-59. This feels much more like the first half now.
Incredibly sloppy sequence from both teams. Ends in no points and a very angry Coach Calipari calling a time out.
62-61 Hawks. Miami just refuses to go away.
65-63 Miami. This is getting good. Sorry for the short commentary. I kinda wanna watch the game. 2:58 left on the clock btw.
Antonio Ballard hits one of two free throws. 66-65 Miami.
OUCH! There’s the balls in the face Griggs was looking for. Power dunk if I do say so myself. That should be on SC too. 67-67 after another one of two from the line for Miami. Gotta make those free throws.
UK goes up two. Misses the and one. Time out Miami. 1:15 left. Insane game.
Poor possession from Miami. It was the ole hold the ball until the shot clock runs low then let Kenny do whatever he wants. Works sometimes against MAC teams. Almost never against a top 5 team. UK ball up two with 20 seconds left.
WOW Haddix nearly stole the inbound pass. Fouled him instead. UK up 70-67.
DAGGER! Kenny Hayes nails a three to tie the game after Wall misses the second free throw. BIGGER DAGGER! Wall hits the game winner with 0.5 seconds left at the other end.
WHAT A GAME! WELL PLAYED HAWKS! Heartbreaker for sure but WOW!