So last night I had to opportunity to go to my second game in two nights for the former UK Pros vs the Dominican Republic National Team. I was much happier to be close to home so that I didn't have a drive afterwards. So lets get right into the meat of it.
The crowd was very good last night, not as rowdy as the crowd in Rupp the night before, but it was still a blue heavy crowd smattered with some in Cardinal red here and there. The crowd was up for the game, but it didn't seem to carry the same amount of buzz that there had been in Lexington. Player introductions were much more subdued and the most exciting (i.e. ridiculous) part was after they had turned the lights off for the Pros introductions they could not get them to turn back on; so the officials at the YUM Center went about it very much like a bunch of guys would at a street ball game when they point their car headlights at the court and turned all the video boards to a glaring white to provide light while the game started. You'll see in some of my pics from the beginning of the game that the arena was dimly lit for about the first ten minutes of play.
I had the chance to sit much closer to the action this go round and was actually right next to the UK Pros bench, which was a thrill for this UK fan. Even having seen them Monday night you can't really appreciate just how fast guys like Rajon Rondo and John Wall are until you see them that up close. There were times Wall would jump for an alley-oop and it actually caught me off guard how quickly he went from being on the floor to being above the rim. Embarrassing as it would be, I found myself thinking that I'd love the chance to guard one of those guys one on one just to see how it would feel to try and keep up with them.
Coach John Calipari played his Dominican starters for the entire first half mostly and reserved the second half for all reserves. Former UofL players Franciso Garcia and Edgar Sosa did not see any second half action but still finished with 8 and 15 points respectively. Sosa also had 5 assists to which one of the UofL fans following my live tweets commented that he wished "little Eddie had passed that well while he was at UofL". Calipari said the reason for the rotation being the way it was was that there are some guys who are still trying to make the team and he wanted to give them the opportunity to show what they can do against top talent and how they could handle the pressure of trying to sustain a lead. And sustain the lead they did. Despite some runs by the UK Pros the Dominican team held on to win 91-86. The UK pros were led by John Wall with 26 points and 8 rebounds and Demarcus Cousins with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Former National Champion while at UK, Nazr Mohammad also notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. One of the things I pointed out during my live tweets last night was that you could tell that the Pros were relying more on their talent while the Dominicans played better team ball; this was exemplified to me in the assist totals in which the Dominicans had 19 to the Pros 6. The Pros also lost some points on the free throw and three point lines. Cousins shot 8 for 17 from the free throw line and the team as a total only shot 5.2% from 3pt range.
All in all it was a great two nights. At the post game press conference Coach Denny Crum was asked how he felt about coaching the team and he made it clear that he enjoyed himself, was happy he had been asked, and that even though he had coached at UofL that he had no prejudice against the University of Kentucky or their players. He made reference to the great friendship that he shares with former UK coach Joe B. Hall and even said that he and Coach Cal fish together. Coach Hall said that he and Coach Crum had "the best seats in the house for these two games", but admitted that he felt the coaching fires burning a different points. There was even a point during the game where Coach Hall sort of got into a referee and then when the crowd started cheering he seemed to "snap out of it" and started laughing like he realized he got caught up.
Well, I'm including some video of the UK Pros during pre-game shoot around and some pics from various points of the night, including some of me with the coaches. Hope you guys enjoy and thanks for following along. If you like, follow me on Twitter at @JLyve .