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(The following article and photos are from Kentucky’s last title in April of 2012. Content is from our parent sports group, the one that birthed BLUEGRASS SPORTS NATION then our very own, SPORTS VIEW AMERICA. We were fortunate enough to be one of the few media outlets to shoot the game from on the floor as well as in the media loft. Myself, Ron Hamblin, and Tim Hamblin, Ricky Blair and Dusty Lane were representatives for KY Sports Review and proud to have covered the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
Ricky Blair – New Orleans – 4-2-12
Eight things to take home from the 2012 Final Four
By Ricky Blair
Eight states and counting! Each of the Wildcats’ eight championships have been won in a different state – New York, N.Y. (1948), Seattle, Wash. (1949), Minneapolis, Minn. (1951), Louisville, Ky. (1958), St. Louis, Mo. (1978), East Rutherford, N. J. (1996), San Antonio, Texas (1998) and of course this year’s 2012 National Championship in the Big Easy – New Orleans, La.
- The Commonwealth was well represented in the 2012 NCAA tournament. Western Kentucky University had a miraculous comeback win in the opening game, Murray State University had the best overall record coming into the tournament, and both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky reached the Final Four. With the WKU Hilltoppers winning the play-in game and the UK Wildcats winning the championship, it may be said that a team from the state of Kentucky won both the first and last games of the tournament. Great showing for the state.
- We UK fans have a lot more in common with our red-blooded brethren, the Louisville Cardinals, than we sometimes like to admit. While Kentucky fans swarmed the city of New Orleans this March, as only the Big Blue Nation could, it must be said that the Cardinals were also well represented. And why not? Kentucky may have led the nation in average home attendance (23,721) for the seventh straight year, and 16th season out of the last 17, but Louisville followed close behind, ranking third this year with an average home attendance of 21,503. Whether Blue or Red, we love our basketball in this state.
- Cardinal Corner – A good friend, and die-hard Louisville fan, wrote me a note after the semi-final match-up between the two Kentucky based schools. “All my family are UK fans, and when U of L is not playing UK, then I’m a UK fan as well,” she said. “That’s the way it should be. Look at the state emblem – ‘United Commonwealth’. We should not be haters; the other 49 states should be the haters.” She went on to say, “Kentuckians from Pikeville to Paducah, or Louisville to Hi Hope should be proud. Basketball is a tradition in our state. It is not red, it is not blue; it’s Kentucky!” And she was true to her word; at the Championship game she was adorned in Wildcat blue.
After sweeping the SEC Player of the Year, SEC Newcomer of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Davis moved on to repeat his conference success on a national scale. Davis won AP National Player of the Year, USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy (National Player of the Year), Spalding Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, NABC Defensive Player of the Year, Sporting News National Player of the Year, Sporting News National Freshman of the Year, CBSSports.com National Player of the Year, Basketball Times National Player of the Year, Rupp Award National Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award, Naismith College Player of the Year and NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award. This made Davis the most decorated player in Kentucky basketball history.
- New Orleans is a wonderful city to have a basketball tournament in, but two trips to the Big Easy in four weeks might be a little much, particularly for the waistline. When Cats fans weren’t in the Super Dome, the French Quarter and the Bourbon Street area offered a lot of local cuisine – Antoine’s Restaurant, Deanie’s Seafood, Bourbon House, The Crazy Lobster, and Royal House Restaurant were just a few of the better places the Big Blue Nation patronized while in the downtown area. UK not only brought home the big trophy, but perhaps a few extra pounds as well.
- Jayhawks or cuckoo birds? The most bizarre thing in New Orleans was surprisingly not the craziness that occurs down on Bourbon Street, but rather the weird fetish that the Kansas fan base has for wearing stickers on their shirts. Instead of buying a Kansas type t-shirt or sweatshirt, a good portion of the KU crowd wore a normal shirt or blouse and simply applied a Jayhawks logo sticker to their attire. I guess that’s one way to make your wardrobe go a long way, with the added advantage of being able to dispose of your team allegiance quickly after a loss. Just peel off the sticker!
- Out of all the Final Four teams involved in this year’s event, Kentucky and Louisville have been the most successful at capitalizing on their National Championship game opportunities. UK is 8-2 in championship games, while U of L is 2-0. Ohio State and Kansas on the other hand have been less than 50 percent when making it to the big game. KU is now 3-6 in the championship game, while OSU is a lowly 1-4 when playing for the big trophy. It takes a lot of skill and a little luck to win a championship. Kentucky now has eight, and with another talented group of players coming in next year, they will go for number nine.