Now that the 2005 college basketball season has been put to bed, UK basketball fans can truly say, "Wait 'til next year."
Gone are Chuck Hayes and Josh Carrier, but taking over the senior leadership responsibilities are Patrick Sparks, Ravi Moss and Kelenna Azubuike, if he decides to return. "I guess it's our team now," Moss said. "We're moving on. Next year we'll be the seniors that will lead the team. We've got a couple of weeks to think about it and accept our responsibilities." Azubuike added, "We've got to thank Chuck and Josh for being such great leaders and for having such great careers here. Next year we've got to try and carry the torch."
Moss and Azubuike will have plenty of experience to fall back on. Azubuike, it would appear, will be testing the temperature of the NBA waters. If he does not return, the Cats will be hurt but by no means will the cupboard be bare.
UK's "fab four" freshmen return with tons of experience, and they say "March Madness experience" will only make them better. "It's motivation to get back where we left off," Randolph Morris said. "We've got to work hard up until next season."
Rajon Rondo took the season ending loss hard. He called the loss to Michigan State in the NCAA basketball tournament the "worst he had ever felt". "I never want to experience this feeling again," Rondo said. "So it makes me want to play harder."
Joe Crawford said the double-overtime loss to Michigan State was the biggest and craziest game he had ever played in. "As a child you watch games like this and dream about playing in them. It's going to make me a lot stronger, and I'm going to play as much basketball as I can and stay in the gym."
As the Cats look towards next year, Bobby Perry may have summed it up best. "We're going to bounce back," he said. "Next year will be hard without Chuck, but we're going to do everything we can to fill his footsteps." Midnight Madness is only a little over six months away.