TU Crimson vs. UK Blue: Historic game proves to be learning experience for all
November 3, 2011 Leave a comment
by Abby Ferguson
Imagine a modern-day David versus Goliath scenario — this was the case for the Transylvania men’s basketball team last night when they faced the University of Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
These two schools, whose cultures are deeply rooted in basketball, met for the first time in 100 years. The outcome ended the tied record of 7-7, making the new record 8-7 in UK’s favor.
The Pioneers started strong, with junior Barrett Meyer scoring the first two baskets of the night. Transy’s team continued to hang with the Cats throughout the entire first half, keeping the scoring gap at 14 points at halftime, with UK at 37 points and Transy at 23.
“We approached this game as a way to help the University of Kentucky to get ready for those early games in the season,” said Transy head coach Brian Lane.
The strong start for the Pioneers was exactly what they aimed to do and it is something they are taking away from the experience.
“The first half was a perfect scenario of what we wanted to do,” Lane said.
“I believe we came out with a lot more energy than they did and they overlooked us,” said junior Ethan Spurlin.
Six-foot-10-inch Anthony Davis, a first-year player for UK, proved troublesome for the Pioneers.
“I simulated (Davis’ height) in practice. … I brought out a broom and we shot over it for two days inside. I would have never dreamed that we would have that many shots blow up in our hands from the 3-point line,” said Lane.
Even with the loss of 97-53, the Pioneers are optimistic about the experience and are taking away positives from the contest.
“We came in tonight really excited. We were nervous, we came in tonight and as soon as tipoff started we were focused — we were ready to go. We played really hard and pretty good basketball,” said Spurlin.
“I thought our guys competed,” Lane said.
Kentucky was quick to “tip their hats” to the Pioneers for their determination throughout the contest.
“Hats off to Coach Lane and Transy,” said Kentucky head coach John Calipari. “I told those guys after, ‘Brian, you should be proud of them.’ They didn’t back away. … They made shots and played with unbelievable emotion. (They) played harder than us, got every loose ball, took charges, did stuff they had to do to stay in the game.”
After the game the Cats looked at their performance to evaluate what areas need improvement.
“There are 60 teams right now, maybe more, that we could not beat if we had to play today. Thank goodness we have another couple weeks before we have to play another real game,” said Calipari. “We’ve just got to be a better team together; we got to play off of one another.”
The Pioneers played a physical game against the Cats, but UK sophomore Terrence Jones saw this as a good test for his team.
“We needed that. … For them to have a chance, they were going to have to play physical with them being so undersized. … It helped us get better and we realize what we need to work on. That’s what the whole game was for,” Jones said.
Calipari sees this as an opportunity to strengthen his team.
“I think we thought we were going to win by 100. I was so happy the game was close; I’m so happy the start was what it was. … It’s a teaching tool, it’s a chance for me to talk to them,” said Calipari.
Overall, the Battle on Broadway left both teams with an experience they believe they can use to help them move forward to a more successful regular season.
“We came focused and we did what we were supposed to do. … We played extremely hard and we didn’t give up,” Spurlin said.