Wildcats Are The Toughest Nut To Crack

Tony Vanetti: Another dream game in the books, and Kentucky comes up with another win. Matt, your thoughts on an eight-point victory for the Cats?

Matt Jones: Well the series has kind of become a nightmare for Rick. Kentucky was the better team this year, and so the result was not really a surprise. That was about the margin I expected. The storyline is that it’s now seven of eight for Calipari, and it’s not exactly clear when that ends. And for Pitino it seems like the series is miserable for him. He looked awful during the game in terms of not wanting to be there. And if it was up to him I don’t know that he’d still want to play it.

Vanetti: It was awful timing, I agree with you there. For a year that you need a win against Cal, this is the team that you can’t compete with. Again, it was a hard-fought game, it was a very physical game in the KFC Yum! Center. It was tight for most of the game. But as most people predicted, as we both predicted, in the last 10 minutes of the game, it was owned by the Cats.

Jones: It’s striking to me to look at the two coaches during the game. I think they both want to win a lot. I don’t believe Cal when he acts like the game doesn’t mean as much. But it’s striking to me how different they both look during the game. Cal is laughing and energetic, and Rick looks like he’s at a wake. I think that can’t help but have an effect on the team.

Vanetti: He hasn’t been like that the last couple of years, and it’s transferred to the team. The teams have played better. I don’t know why Rick sometimes coaches this game tight. He hasn’t had the best game plan in the last couple of years against Calipari. It has shown. Kentucky hasn’t had more talent or better talent every time out, but they come up with a victory. I’m not sure about that one. What did you think about Rick’s game plan this time around?

Jones: I knew he was going to do that, and that’s what he had to do. I agree with you, in years past I haven’t understood the game plan. Especially last year, both times they played. This year though, he had no choice. Nobody in the country can run with Kentucky. I do think Pitino has undergone a shift in style. His teams have played slower in the last five years, than they have in the past. But, he didn’t have a choice but to do it this game. With that said, I was surprised at his substitution patterns. I don’t watch every Louisville game, but I was surprised they didn’t play Anas Mahmoud. I’m surprised they didn’t try Anton Gill at all. Chris Jones essentially played them out of the game at times, and they stayed with him. I know he and Pitino aren’t best buddies, but I just don’t understand staying down the same path that’s not working.

Vanetti: Well, I think he was afraid Anas would get pushed around.

Jones: The other guys got pushed around.

Vanetti: No, there’s no question about that. I think the worst part for Louisville fans is not the 1-7 against Cal. Yes it hurts, but mostly at least for me, it wasn’t the veterans that beat Louisville on Saturday. It was the darn freshmen again. The freshmen come up big against Louisville every year. That’s the biggest argument for Louisville fans “Oh, well the freshmen can’t beat the veterans.” Ulis came up big, Lyles was big. The freshmen come in and play against Louisville all of the time.

Jones: That’s a good point. Cal over the years has had freshman that are just overwhelming talent. Wall, Cousins, Gilchrist, etc. But that’s not these freshmen. Tony don’t you think these freshmen for Kentucky you can all see playing for Louisville? Every one of them you could see being a Louisville player. They’re all kind of Pitino type players. They’re not amazing physical specimens like Cal has had. And for those guys to win, I think that has to be particularly stinging. Because all of these guys are Pitino guys.

Vanetti: And in that environment. By the way, are you still in love with Jennifer Lawrence? I know you want to marry her.

Jones: I think she’s kind of a fake fan. I saw that our friend Terry Meiners had to bring her UofL gear to wear to the game. If you’re a real fan I don’t think you need to have someone bring you Louisville gear. There was a great scene where she was trying to follow along with the CARDS cheer. It was like she was trying to understand what was happening. So I still love her as an actress. I can’t stand that she’s a UofL fan, but I don’t think she really is a fan. I think she was just there.

Vanetti: She’s true to the Cardinals.

Jones: Because every true Cardinal fan doesn’t have a Louisville shirt. They would need Terry Meiners to bring them a shirt.

Vanetti: I will agree with you this, She did mess up on the CARDS cheer. It’s pretty simple. But okay, the environment was crazy. You’ve got to say, even though it’s lop-sided in Kentucky’s favor at this point in the rivalry, it’s still the nation’s best.

Jones: Well it’s the nation’s most vitriolic rivalry. The fans are the most into it. But these games are not good games. They’re not fun to watch, really. Part of it is that the style that Rick employs in these games makes them hard to watch. They’re slow, they grind it out, they’re hacking and they’re grabbing. It’s just not a fun brand of basketball. But I will give Louisville fans this, I did think that environment was great. It was loud. I was there pre-game and it was exciting. Sometimes I think Louisville games feel like professional games and not college games. But I didn’t feel that on Saturday. I thought their fans really brought it. Unfortunately, the fans couldn’t get into the game very often because there just weren’t enough runs for Louisville, for the crowd to really get into.

Vanetti: Even though they’re used to the Big East days where a lot of games looked like that, physical, grinders 52-50, I agree with you. It was not a fun game to watch and it ended up with the Cats winning. So, I’ll say congratulations; the last two losses for Louisville have been the Cats. So, you move on to your SEC slate and Louisville moves on to the ACC.