COLUMBIA, SC --- Sometimes you forget the current #1 team in the nation is made up of mostly 18 and 19 year olds, and then you strike just the right subject to bring out the kids in them.
Kentucky is scheduled to arrive at its team hotel in Columbia a little after 7 o'clock, ahead of its matchup with South Carolina Saturday night. Meanwhile, our own Pat Doney was in Lexington this afternoon before the Wildcats left.
The usual topics came up: How is the team gelling? What's different this time around about South Carolina? Etc...
But for me, it's so much more interesting to get a glimpse into the personalities of these players, outside the usual talking-head, canned answers we see far too often in sports media these days.
We had that with UK Friday.
We discovered the resident prankster on this roster is sophomore Doron Lamb, whose recent roommate on the road is freshman Marquis Teague, and Teague getting a little cheesed lately.
Because Lamb takes no prisoners on the road, saying his go-to move is 'wetting' teammates...as in pouring water on them the second they fall asleep.
But the rest of the roster isn't safe either outside his hotel room. You better be alert on the team bus too, because 'wetting' is in play there as well.
And John Calipari's cool with it, saying he's pro prank.
"That doesn't bother me. That's between them. I don't go to breakfast. I don't go to team meals," said Coach Cal Friday. "They see me enough. If I'm not there, they may not do that."
Calipari said if he was at those unofficial team meetings and gatherings, the players might not be as comfortable being themselves, constantly looking over their shoulders for coach in fear of getting in trouble. It's practice, then they'll see him on the bus rolling out of Lexington.
"The best thing about when school ends and we have that time together and we're going three times a day, including a breakfast meal and an evening meal. Then you go on the road and you're 24/7 for two days and you're together at meals, at shoot around, at film sessions. They start coming together," said Calipari.
"That's why this time of the year...I like it, and I really don't mind going on the road, especially when you're just trying to bring your team together."
This is what makes watching college sports fun. Little glimpses like these that remind you these privileged young adults aren't just numbers on a jersey or a scoring average.
We forget sometimes these Cats are crazy talented but barely legal.
Have fun with it...They are.
***Tune in Friday night to WDRB Sports at 10:45 for more on Lamb the prankster and how opposing fans often ask the Cats if they really don't get paid and go to class.***