That sentiment was echoed by Utah coach Ray Giacoletti, "Not very many people expected us to be here," the first year coach said, "so we can go out and play loose. We have nothing to lose."
The former Eastern Washington coach seemed relaxed in his telephone press conference. Until just a day or two ago he was barely admitting that UK was anything but another team on the schedule, "Our team is just really proud to be here and we are enjoying the moment," he reflected, "Kentucky has been here many times and in a way it's old hat. For us just being here is very special."
Not that Giacoletti doesn't think they can win, "We watched game tape this morning and are getting a feel for Kentucky's style of play. In a way they are very similar to the Oklahoma team we just played. Both Kentucky and Oklahoma are athletic, very strong, very physical and very fast. I don't think the Sooners are as good as Kentucky from what I have seen, but similar in many respects."
And what about the differences?
"Oklahoma did not play a high-low post offense," the Utes coach said, "Kentucky does that well. It will be something that we have to figure how to deal with. We cannot get into an up and down game with Kentucky. We cannot allow them easy transition baskets that I have seen them get. Our best case is to keep the game in the low-60's."
Bogut anticipated that the Cats may try to get physical and wear him down, "They have a lot of big guys. They might lean on me, play physical with me to tire me," Bogut said, "That's ok. I have seen that before. If they collapse on me, it will be my job to find my teammates and make that pass. I feel like I will be ready."
Giacoletti said Hayes would be a concern, "Chuck is the glue that holds this team together. He is the senior leader and he has been playing like it. He is very strong and plays smart, unselfish basketball. We are going to have to put a game plan together that helps offset his play."
And what might his primary concern be going up against the Cats?
"Well certainly one concern is turnovers," Giacoletti said, we had 20 against Oklahoma. Our point guard Marc Jackson had six and Bogut had five. The game before we had 17 turnovers against Texas-El Paso. Kentucky has players that will exploit that. If we do not handle the ball better, Kentucky will pick us clean. We simply have to handle the ball well."
Giacoletti added that early season experiences against top ten teams has helped to demonstrate to his team that the Utes are capable of playing top caliber teams, "We played Washington early in the year. We got down early but game back and pulled to within one. We made a game of it. Against Arizona we led 37 minutes of that game but simply failed to block out and control the boards at a critical juncture. Those experiences will help us Friday."