Kentucky Senior Day reflection

Senior Day is always a special day at the University of Kentucky. Sunday's Senor Day in Rupp Arena was even more special than normal. Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie introduced the seniors after the game, and gave each an opportunity to speak to the Rupp crowd.

Of the many senior days in the past, this one felt quite different. There are many things to point to but maybe the overriding thing about this day was, the journey the players in addition to the fans had come through was a storm. For this group of players it was the "Perfect Storm" so to speak, for you movie buffs.

Did the seniors win all the games this season, no, but what ails one sometimes make us stronger. And this team has with out a doubt been made exponentially stronger. The different feel to this senior day came in the way of tearing-up by the coach for a change instead of the players. Billy Gillispie got quite emotional during the senior day festivities.

"I was emotional on this senior day because it is the last time these guys are going to play on this court," Gillispie lamented. "And they are going to graduate (in May). Not seeing these guys back out there next year is going to be very sad for me."

Gillispie showed a softer side of himself. He actually showed he loved those seniors as well as the rest of the team.

"Early in the year, I thought he hated me," Joe Crawford said. "That was one of the toughest times of my life. He didn't say things to us early in the year that he is saying now. There were a few times I was ready to give up."

Rajan Rondo returned to Rupp Arena to take part in the festivities. He would have been part of this class had he stayed in school. His seemingly life long mentor Doug Bibby was on hand as well. Even the ovation Rondo received show an apologetic side of the fans for the sometime shoddy treatment he received. Randolph Morris greeted the seniors via film clip on the Rupp Arena Jumbotron. Morris, too, would have been a part of this class had he remained at Kentucky one more season.

Ramel Bradley said the emotion before the game affected him greatly. "Every shot I was putting up, I was praying that it would go in because I want this day to be special," Bradley said. Before the game he said – "I kept looking at mom and she was smiling and I kept from tearing up. There was the emotion of trying to end a seven game losing streak to Florida and going out with a win. I settled down in the second and started to play some basketball the way I'm capable."

Even some of the shots the team was making made, up against the shot clock, made it a special senior day. "Everything coach (Gillispie) tells us, things just keep coming through," Bradley said. "He told us today something crazy is going to happen and it did. Like early in the week Joe (Crawford) scoring 35 points.

A post game elated Daisy Rice, Ramel Bradley's mother, said she been to enough games to know she didn't avoid almost having a heart attack today. "Oh my God, this was an amazing experience," she said.

Joe Crawford's grandparents, Erma Glasker, Samuel Glasker, and Rosie McGruder were in attendance at the senior day celebration. Mrs. Glasker said the experience of Joe Crawford being at UK was terrific, and Mister Glasker said he was glad that Joe stayed here for the four years. All's well that ends well on senior day in Rupp Arena when at the end of a victorious game, Gillispie takes the public address microphone and thanks to crowd for their support and perseverance. Likewise Crawford and Bradley do the same thing. Both gestures are unlike anything that has occurred recently on senior day. All of this makes it a special day with a different feel to it.

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