‘Crazy’ UK fans won’t steal the Cats’ joy, Calipari and Hagans say
Kentucky defeated Louisville 71-58 on Saturday. All is right in the Big Blue Nation. But if Louisville had won ...
“All the fans were saying, ‘Don’t lose this one,’ ” Ashton Hagans said. “‘You can lose every game, but don’t lose the Louisville game.’”
This raised a logical follow-up question: How would fans react if Kentucky met this stated standard? What if UK’s final record this season was, say, 1-31?
“That’s a good one,” Hagans said with a soft smile. “I think they would be going crazy, you know. I’m here for my brothers, and not the fans, so I’m not worried about what they’ve got to say.”
But, of course, Kentucky fans always have something to say. What do they overreact to?
“Everything,” Hagans said. “Turn the ball over. They’re going to be at you. If you don’t have a good game, they’re going to be at you.
“But if you have a good game, they’re going to be on the bandwagon.”
While not taking the fickle overreaction of fans to heart, Hagans said he was aware of their swings of emotion expressed on Twitter and Instagram.
“I just go on Instagram and I swipe over and I see it,” he said. “But I don’t really be into all of it.”
UK Coach John Calipari joked at the fans’ expense after Saturday’s game.
“All season our fans have bragged about these kids and talked about how good (they are),” he said facetiously.
After UK defeated North Carolina a week earlier, Calipari spoke of the need to protect the players being influenced by the fans’ wild mood swings. After all, one sports mantra is to stay on an even keel, not getting too high nor too low. It’s never as good as it seems nor as bad.
“If we had won that game (against Seton Hall), we wouldn’t have all this craziness, but this is Kentucky,” Calipari said in Chicago. “Good luck . ... Keeping the clutter away from them is part of what we have to do. We have the greatest fans in the country. We do. But they also want to win every game by 25.”
In the Yum Center media room, Calipari said he did not read tweets nor postings on Facebook.
“The fans that really follow us, they know this is a process,” he said. Those fans know the players’ metaphorical lamp of awareness might not go on until February or, in the case of the 2013-14 team, March.
“There’s also a small percentage out there that are just crazy,” Calipari said. “I don’t pay any attention to them. Now, here is the good thing. They will never steal my joy. They never will. I don’t listen.”
BAHAMAS REPRISE? WHAT IF ...
Herro mused about how different the perception of this Kentucky team would be if the
Cats had beaten Seton Hall.
“If we won that game, we’re probably be top five in the country right now,” he said. “We’re going in the right direction. Like Coach says, we’re building for March.”
The game was one of eight Louisville will play this season against teams ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press preseason poll. Kentucky was No. 2 in that poll.
Other opponents in that top 10 on Louisville’s schedule are No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Virginia (two games), No. 6 Tennessee, No. 8 North Carolina (two games) and No. 10 Michigan State.
Louisville came into the game on pace to set a program record for freethrow accuracy. The Cards had made 77.2 percent of their free throws. The program record is 75.2 percent set in 1974-75.
Ryan McMahon led the way. He had made 31 of 33 free throws. His 93.9-percent accuracy ranked sixth nationally.
U of L made 13 of 19 free throws against UK. That lowered the team’s percentage to 76.8.