Walking into Rupp arena you instantly feel the ghost of Kentucky basketball past. You look around this giant warehouse and begin to realize the importance and honor it is to have a chance to play against one of the most storied programs in basketball history. So in the beginning I was just happy to be there and to say that I laced them up against a Kentucky team. Going into that game I don’t think anybody thought we could win that game, we had a group of sophomores playing major minutes and a couple freshman who were still getting adjusted to collegebasketball. So as a team we were really in a “We against the world” situation.
The game started out and it was a battle from the beginning, Chris Hill came out and knocked down two early 3’s and gave us an early lead. Kentucky, who was lead by future NBA player Keith Bogans made a run of their own to take the lead back from us. The game as a back and forth battle the entire time but something happened during the battle that would change the course of the game for me. During a scramble for a rebound one of my teammates Kelvin Torbert took an elbow to the head and suffered a concussion. Now we already had a short bench that season because of injuries and players leaving early and another injury left us in a tough spot. So I entered the game my first real extended minutes.
The game stayed close all the way until the end and we were down 67-66 and had the ball. I remember I was in the corner right in front of our bench and Keith Bogans was guarding me. Kentucky was doing a great job of taking away our obvious three point shooters; Chris Hill and Adam Ballinger. I remember that the shot clock had gotten to 10 and one of our assistant coaches was counting down the time, Chris had the ball and was dribbling when Bogans left me and started to go and double team him. Chris instinctively throw the ball to the open man, I heard the countdown of the shot clock and I just caught it and let it go. It was actually the first three I had taken that season and definitely the most memorable. Kentucky came down and missed a three and Chris went to the line and knocked down 2 free throws to put us up 71-67 and secure the win. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get after beating a team on there home court, it’s a euphoria that you share with your small group of teammates and coaches.
After the game when asked about that shot Coach Izzo said, “I could lie to you and tell you I set that up. But in all honesty, he was the sixth option out of five guys.”
No matter what option you are on your team or in your office they may come a time where you have to take a big shot, Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger!
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt