DEMAREE: Memorial Coliseum Nostalgia

The University of Kentucky played basketball in a situation where it had everything to lose and almost nothing to gain. Kentucky played the first round game in Memorial Coliseum against UNLV and avoided disaster by holding on to a 70-60 victory. With about three minutes remain in the game, a twenty-point lead had dwindled to three points.

The very worst thing that could have happened on this night was that in the wee hours of the morning, with a very raucous crowd, would be this team sending those fans home with tarnished memories of the last game 1976 which was a win at that venue.

Let's just stop here for a moment a be a fan. To see one of the star players , Patrick Patterson) getting on the floor twice in the last three minutes to scramble for a loose ball for a embattled head coach, for the fans, for his team, and for himself was electrifying.

Three longtime Kentucky fans and friends, E. Cassidy, Michael Grice, and Bert Sparrow were on hand for the game and expressed Some nostalgic memories. "I saw one game here in 1975 - ‘76 and we won and Bert was just saying they've got to re-write all the records now for the fall," Grice said. "The last game played here, the last foul shot made, the last foul shot missed, all those records have got to be re-done," a seemingly jittery Sparrow explained. "I just hope we don't have any of those last game losers." What is the thought of the condition that got UK in position that it finds itself here? Sparrow said - he likes it "I like it. We deserve to be here but we don't deserve to be anywhere else.

"People have short memories," James E. Elam said. "Remember back In 1976 when UK won the NIT, what happened the year before that? We played UCLA in the NCAA semi-finals of the final four. He was drawing a comparison of what one-year can do in terms of turnaround for a team. "Just before we came in (the coliseum), we went next door (the Joe Craft Center) and saw all the pictures, Dan Issel, Kevin Grevey, the memories are phenomenal. I definitely like to see history re-lived. We get a couple of shooters and were are top ten next year."

After the victory Billy Gillispie said, "We just got to play in the most storied building in college basketball." More than that he was alluding to all the great players, coaches, and teams that had graced that building.

Again, alluding to the fans, who stood on their feet for most of the night, if not for the huge rally UNLV was making. It was almost like, could we possibly lose this game?

For a season that has gone topsy-turvy and all the negativism circulating around the program, this gave the UK fan base some much needed positive energy. One man of the past that would have greatly enjoyed this experience would have been Bill "Mr. Wildcat" Keightley. He is the one missing part of the Wildcat basketball family that leaves a huge void for the players.

Keightley was a leaning post for the players when thing weren't going good. They could cry on his shoulder - he was a father figure for them that could help ease their mental anguish and I some cases avert a bad decision.

This was in part, a crowd that - 1) doesn't get into Rupp Arena, and 2) doesn't get this close to the floor and they voiced their appreciation through their thunderous support.

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