The starting lineup: Battle of the Bluegrass sized up

Photo by David Blair/Icon Sportswire
Photo by David Blair/Icon Sportswire

The first 5 guys on the floor matched my prediction for Louisville. As the non-conference schedule has come to a close for the year and it’s been scrutinized as any, let’s assess the Cards because that’s what we as fans & as media do. We criticize and rectify, perhaps justify in any way we can. Each team had their storylines heading into the battle but here are 4 of mine following it. All of these things are going to tie in together, but I wanted to individually outline as a list because have an obsession with making lists. Know where I got it? Rick Pitino, (Rebound Rules 2010).
4 things from another loss at Rupp:

🔸home court advantage: 

There is a reason the phrase exists. A home court record has it’s own column on stat sites and the schedule itself is discussed analyzed & some times down right insulted. Vegas gives a team 2, sometimes 5 points merely because of it. And that was the case for Kentucky as the annual rivalry game was held at Rupp Arena this past Saturday.

Pitino said it following the 4 point loss at Michigan State, communication between coach and players was hindered after half by the noise that filled the arena. It’s been so quiet in the Yum! Center during these non-conference sleepers that more often than not I can hear Pitino’s instructions to the team through the live TV feed.


Against Kentucky, the miscommunication was specifically evident when Pitino belted ‘FOUR SECONDS’ towards the guys as they exited the huddle. #bbn defensive chants masked the miscommunication between coach & players again. A new rule indicates the clock will not reset to 10 seconds when getting the ball across mid court. At final, Louisville & Kentucky matched in turnovers but it even felt like the Cats had the ball for the final 2 minutes of the first half. Kentucky went on a 25-12 run in that time as the clock wound down. Most critics will explain that college basketball is a game of runs… And 40 minutes long. Kentucky did it 3 times, Louisville did it twice. Game. Set. Match. 2 points. Two freakin points.

Now it’s Monday after Christmas. I’m guess I’m wondering.. Are you walking into work with your head high or your head maybe a little low? Depending on what color you’re wearing, absolutely. Why? Because, fans. And weve got to face one another on a daily basis.

🔸the rivalry is alive, perhaps not well:

Houses are divided. We work around the other fan on a daily basis and seek out more on social media. And let’s not dismiss the air so thick when the Governor’s Cup just recently began revolving around Thanksgiving and the Battle of the Bluegrass swallows Christmas morning. And then that series being put on a national stage during March Madness.

Kentucky might have won the past 4 matchups and 8 of the last 9, but can those of you stop insisting the rivalry is dead? In no way do I think this series should cease because it just ‘isn’t competitive’.

It’s not Louisville fans who are suggesting this either, but when I hear a Kentucky fan say they want to ‘end the series’ because it’s lopsided, instead I hear ‘I’m tired of winning the game’. You’re telling me that Kentucky fans are going THAT far? Don’t try to convince yourself or others of something that just isn’t true.

For both institutions, this matchup is the highest attended and most highly anticipated one on the schedule across the sporting board. But let’s focus on basketball alone, like bbn prefers… Both teams are regularly appearing in the top 25 and NCAA tournament, both have HOF coaches, both fan bases have to deal with one another & both want the other to lose. Forgive me if I’m not on board with the big or little brother conversation but that’s because a sibling rivalry works as follows… Sure you want to cream the other but when the big or little is in battle with an outsider… You cheer the other to victory. That just doesn’t happen between these two fan bases. I want Kentucky to lose, always & I’m sure a blue would say the same. That’s how you know the two are not related… And more so- enemies.

You could see it Saturday, alone. From opening tip off – Marcus Lee and Chinanu Onuaku could barely contain the excitement and anticipation. If you don’t think either coach loses sleep over this game, you’re missing the storylines.

🔸give credit where credit is due:

Not a lot of people thought Kentucky could lose two in a row. And lucky us, Bill Raftery was calling the game against the Cats. He made it a point during the Louisville game to exclaim, that ‘Ohio state must’ve woken up Kentucky’. Excuse me? Did it seem as if Kentucky was ‘awake’ when they faced the buckeyes?? Or were they lighting up the 3 point line against Louisville? (A stat they severely struggled with up to this point in the season.) Every guy on the floor wanted to come out and put up the biggest numbers for the biggest stage of his career (as if any players wants to do the opposite). There were at least 15 scouts at Rupp on this day. Credit Kentucky for knocking the shots down & Louisville for bringing it out of them.

Do we think Louisville stumbled and/or perhaps Kentucky turned a corner? Louisville is entering the tougher part of their schedule whereas Kentucky should dismantle the SEC, and that remains the same. But the new year always seems to bring the changes out in us all. For me, that is a credit to Kentucky for winning their Super Bowl.
Moving on…

As for #cardnation …. Let’s get ready for the music city bowl


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