LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- What if we covered sports the way they cover presidential debates? I got to thinking about that last night, while getting a bit drowsy during post-debate coverage . . .
[Wavy dream sequence commencing]
Hi everybody, Eric Crawford here for WDRB Sports reporting from New Orleans where the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky have just completed their NCAA men's basketball semifinal in the Superdome, and we're set to bring you comprehensive analysis of what we've just witnessed, starting with our veteran observer of these events, Rick Bozich, just across from me on the floor of the Superdome.
RICK BOZICH: Yes, Eric, it was certainly a spirited contest here tonight. There was some interesting body language between the two teams. UK certainly accomplished a lot of things it wanted to accomplish tonight. The blocked shots. The precision half-court offense. U of L got off to a tentative start, but I think scored points midway through when it clearly got things going in its favor. In the end, the edge on the scoreboard will have to weigh heavily in UK's favor, but we'll have to see how things shake out.
ERIC: That's right Rick, and for that we go to our reporters in the spin room, where U of L sports information director Kenny Klein is waiting.
KLEIN: This was a clear victory for the Cardinals. Rick Pitino hit a home run tonight. He was passionate. He was focused. He came in and accomplished what he wanted to do strategically and tactically. He needed to convince American fans that he had a plan for beating Kentucky. This team looked the part of national championship finalist. Clearly, they bothered UK with their pesky defense and really found their stride in keeping the game more of a wrestling match than a track meet. UK, with all of its celebration at the end of the game, I don't think is going to play well with women and undecided fans. It was over the top. I thought the Cardinals were forceful and confident and in the coming days I think you're going to see that fact borne out in the response of American sports fans.
ERIC: Not surprisingly, Kenny Klein feeling good about a Cardinal victory, but now we head over to DeWayne Peevy in the Wildcats' spin room, where spirits are pretty high right now.
PEEVY: (Steps away from Jay-Z and into hallway away from celebratory noise.) Wait, what is this? We won the game, right?
ERIC: Stay with us DeWayne, we're just using this as a bit of satire to prove a point.
PEEVY: Oh, well, uh, there's no question the Wildcats were clear winners tonight. Look, U of L had 40 minutes to accomplish its goals, and it didn't. No matter what is said, the Cardinals have their record. They can say what they want, but in the end, if they wanted to accomplish the things they're saying they have, they had the chance to do that but didn't. And I thought John Calipari and the Wildcats did a good job of making the case that they won the game. They shot a higher percentage. They exposed U of L's weaknesses. They demonstrated the clear differences between these two teams. And at the end of the game, UK finished with more points on the scoreboard, and that's going to go a long way with most fans.
ERIC: No surprise, then, both sides are claiming victory in this at times heated encounter in which both sides very much went after each other. We're going to be quite interested to see the results of our scientific poll of game watchers, people who watched the game, and we're going to find out who they think won. But first, we now have caught up with former Louisville coach Denny Crum on the floor of the Superdome and we want to hear from him.
CRUM: Thanks Eric, and I think there's no question but that Louisville overwhelmed Kentucky tonight. They ran, they shot the ball, they fought back from adversity, they were the better dressed team and I thought really made their points in an understated way as opposed to a Kentucky team that at times got outright obnoxious with the way it was dunking the ball. And really, look, what you have here is a bunch of 5-star recruits running around for Kentucky, a bunch of future millionaires, and I just don't think that's what this sport is about. We're for a strong middle class and I think independent fans know that.
ERIC: Thanks coach. And I'm now being told that we have former UK coach Joe B. Hall standing by also at the Superdome. Coach, we just heard Denny Crum say that UK is a team made up of elite players who won't resonate with fans, how do you respond to that?
HALL: Thanks, Larry. I don't think Denny knows what he's talking about. Anthony Davis puts his pants on just like everybody else, except that he goes out and blocks 10 shots after he does it. They just keep trying to obscure the fact that no matter how much they spin it, the Wildcats scored more points in this game than the Cardinals did. It's a desperate tactic, and it's not going to work. Fans will see through it. The Wildcats stayed on message and won this game and the Cardinals just offered more of the same.
ERIC: I hate to cut you off, coach but we now have our first results from registered sports fans who watched tonight's game, and this is what we have. Forty-six percent say UK won the game, 39 percent say U of L won the game. Eighty percent said U of L did better than expected, which is a great number for the Cardinals, especially when you consider that 33 percent said UK did worse than expected. What do you make of these immediate numbers, Rick Bozich?
RICK: Well, I think we shouldn't be surprised, given the final score of the game, though UK has to be troubled by the fact that 80 percent said U of L did better than expected. So this is a win for UK, but those other numbers bear watching. And I think the big question remains, is this win enough to build momentum moving forward?
ERIC: Thanks Rick. It's time for us to go back to the studio where WDRB Sports Director Tom Lane has been watching the game with a focus group of undecided fans.
TOM: Well, Eric, as you can imagine there were a lot of interested people in this room. I can say they followed the game very closely. I loved watching with a group that had to score the game every single moment. And here's an interesting thing, Eric. Of our 35 viewers here in the room tonight, 14 said UK won the game, and 6 said U of L won the game. But 15 of the people in this room said nobody won, that the game was a draw. So clearly, these teams need to do more to convince some of these fans. One interesting note is that our group in general found UK to be more likable after the game than before the game, and again, like in our flash poll, most people in this group thought U of L fared better than they thought the Cardinals would. I want to turn to one of our viewers, Kathy. Kathy, who did you think won this game?
KATHY: I think U of L won the game.
TOM: And why is that?
KATHY: Well, I thought there was a time or two that UK looked frustrated, including one time when they got ahead by 13 points but couldn't get farther ahead. I didn't like that.
TOM: Let me go over here to Steve, what did you think about this game?
STEVE: I think both teams did some good things. I just found that there was way too much negativity and that really turned me off.
TOM: And finally let me go over here to Rob, and get his thoughts, Rob?
ROB: Are they going to bring in any more sandwiches?
TOM: So there you go, Eric. A lot of watching, but few real changes among undecided fans.
ERIC: Thanks, Tom. And, of course, one thing we should note is that while UK came out ahead on the scoreboard in Louisiana, the real question for us to explore ad nauseam in the coming days is who won this game in states like Ohio, North Carolina and Nevada? So you'll want to stay tuned to our 24-hour coverage. The game is over but the analysis goes on . . .