I’m not expecting the crowd tonight at the Yum! Center to go all crazy for the Dominican Republic National Team, but at least it’s possible that former U of L stars Francisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa won’t be booed like they were by 24,000 fans at Rupp Arena last night.
One big difference between the two games — tonight’s exhibition isn’t sold out. While it seems that hoops-starved fans in Lexington might ante up for a chance to cheer anyone wearing Wildcat blue, barring a last-minute rush to the box office, there will be seats available at Yum.
Oh, by the way, at Rupp last night, the Dominican team coached by John Calipari whooped up on the former Wildcat millionaries, 106-88.
Does that matter? Hardly. They’ll likely win again tonight, as Calipari apparently is so good a coach he knows how to defend the former Cats. Of course, the whole series has been great fodder for the UK-U of L rivalry. The radio trash talking has worked into a frenzy. Remember how all those UK fans were upset that Rick Pitino wasn’t bothered by the fact that the UK-themed event is even taking place here tonight. Some U of L fans take the ridiculousness of it all to a new level, criticizing Denny Crum for taking part in the spectacle, saying it disrespects his home school.
Of course, UK fans are rubbing it in that Garcia and Sosa played well. On the highlights I saw of the game, though, Garcia made some threes with nary a defender in sight. It’s pretty easy to score when you’re a professional and no one is guarding you.
And Calipari, who if he doesn’t finish as UK’s all-time greatest coach, will at least be featured in the P.R. wing of its Hall of Fame, seems genuinely bewildered by all the attention given to a pair of mid-August practice games. While Pitino’s team played before sparse crowds during its just-completed vacation in the Bahamas, you can only imagine how many Big Blue backers would have found a way to fill up tiny Bahamas gyms had the Wildcats been playing. Cal, on his own website, trotted out a top ten list of funniest moments from last night’s game.
I liked #3, his criticism of John Schnatter’s attempts to make a half-court shot, and Cal’s recollection that Sosa was a little prone to fouling. The Rupp Arena crowd booed the former U of L standouts throughout the game.
Tonight, it’s likely the UK team will play a little better, but don’t expect them to win.