Taylor's Thoughts: Rupp Arena without UK

It just didn't seem right covering an event at Rupp Arena without Kentucky being in the mix. But that's OK. Covering hoops in March is special. But then again, teams such as Stanford, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Pennsylvania, Xavier, Brigham Young and Central Connecticut State did experience what we are used to on a consistent basis.

The first- and second-round games of the NCAA Tournament games that were played in Lexington last week featured a different feel. The oddest hearing the chant of C-A-R-D-S instead of C-A-T-S. The red shirts in blue seats took some getting used to, but we adjusted.

When the Cardinals played their two games, it was indeed weird hearing 20-plus thousand fans chanting for the Cards and a former UK coach – Rick Pitino.

Aside from the norm, we did get to see some exciting basketball, including Ohio State's come-from-behind win over Xavier. Louisville held its own against Texas A&M.

Speaking of the Aggies, it's good to know that there are some solid coaches out there, one of which includes Texas A&M boss Billy Gillispie. Gillispie's style and approach left an impression on this writer before he packed his bags for San Antonio.

Many of the teams that visited marveled at the size of the arena and the banners hanging in the rafters.

As I was walking by the Texas A&M cheerleaders on my way to the media room, I overhead one of them just marveling over the number of people in the arena and how nice it was.

Our permanent seat – like the rest of the media that cover the Wildcats on a regular basis – was located behind one of the team benches.

It was a different and exciting view behind the huddle.

In case you want to know, Pitino hasn't lost one ounce of his competitive zeal and can be as animated as ever. Ohio State coach Thad Matta also is animated.

At one point late in the game against Xavier, he picked up a cup near the scorer's table thinking it was empty. Matta was planning on crushing the cup and tossing it into a nearby trash can, before he realized it was full of water. An assistant coach took care of the cup. It was easy to understand if Stanford's coach seemed like he was still stuck in the pacific time zone.

Didn't cover the last two games of the first night because I got ill and had to leave. Got well enough to cover the two games last Saturday and can safely say that one of the two teams that left Rupp as winners will be in the Final Four.


AllWildcats Top Stories