Against The Grain by: Andy Sullivan
Monday night April 2, the University of Kentucky Wildcats won their 8th National Championship. Their last was in 1998. I was one year removed from graduating high school. Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ home run record, hitting 62 (we’d find later that he cheated, marring the whole thing). John Elway and the Denver Broncos finally won the Super bowl. The late, great Dale Earnhardt won his first and only Daytona 500. France won the World Cup. Microsoft introduces Windows ’98, Apple introduces the iMac, Google is established and North Korea launches its first satellite. Kentucky defeated Stanford 86-85 in one semifinal; Utah defeated North Carolina 65-59 in the other. Kentucky, 2 seed in the South region, defeated Utah for the title 78-69.
Tubby Smith became the third coach in NCAA history to win the title in his first full year at a school. Steve Fischer did it in Michigan in 1989 but he only coached the tourney games. Smith became only the 2nd coach to be at the helm an entire year and win the title in his first year (Ed Juker was the new coach in Cincinnati when the Bearcats won in 1961).
The 1998 Kentucky championship team called themselves “The Undeniables”. I think the 2012 title team should be branded “Team of Destiny”. Where was I during these title games? My first UK title game in my lifetime was 1996(their last title was a year before I was born). My second was a year later. I was sad they lost to Arizona. The next year was the title win over Utah I mentioned earlier. Fourteen years later (a lifetime for UK fans), we were back! Kentucky defeated in-state rival Louisville in the National Semifinal 69-61.
It hit me that, for the first time in 14 years, my all-time favorite team was going to play for the National Championship! I think I shook the house I jumped up and down so hard! The title game against Kansas was more of the same. After a very tough battle, and quite a scare given to us Cat fans by the Jayhawks, UK prevailed 67-59. Anthony Davis had 30 points in the Final Four, the most since Hakeem Olajuwon (40) in 1983. By the way, the house shook WAY worse after we won the title!
Hello, my name is Andy Sullivan. I received my bachelor’s degree in business from Mid-Continent University in May 2009. I began writing for Beech Tree News in July 2009. I enjoy playing guitar, the occasional Wii game, writing, and listening to music. I write a sports blog that can be found at http://andy-sportshorts.blogspot.com. If you have a comment, feel free to leave it in the space below.