CRAWFORD | Smackdown? UK players won't return WVU trash talk - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Smackdown? UK players won't return WVU trash talk

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CLEVELAND (WDRB) — There are some immutable laws of college basketball this season.

1. You don't tug on Superman's cape.

2. You don't spit into the wind.

3. You don't pull on the mask of that old Lone Ranger.

4. And you don't trash talk the University of Kentucky basketball team the day before playing it.

Sorry, that didn't rhyme. But it checks out nonetheless.

I don't know at what point the pregame interviews for UK basketball games became the stuff of WWE, but the West Virginia University basketball team, or at least a couple of its players, went there on Wednesday in Quicken Loans Arena, where the No. 5 seeded Mountaineers will face the unbeaten and No. 1 ranked and seeded Wildcats Thursday night at about 9:40 p.m.

CRAWFORD | Behind the scenes, Calipari, Huggins spar like old friends

I'm guessing WVU coach Bob Huggins would rather freshman guard Daxter Miles not have said what he said Wednesday.

“Salute to them getting up to 36-0,” Miles told reporters. All right. So far, so good. “But tomorrow they're going to be 36-1. They're going to be 36-1.”

As Gen. George Custer said before the battle of Little Big Horn: “Well, I guess the element of surprise is gone.”

We interrupt this column for a message that is signed by the other 14 programs in the NCAA Sweet 16 this season: "Hey. WVU. Please, shut the ---- up. Okthx."


But Miles wasn't finished.

“I don't think they've played a team like us,” Miles said. “To me, they don't play hard. To me, they don't play as hard as we play. Nobody is invincible. Their time will come, and I think we're going to pull it out.”

I'm reminded of a line from the movie “Hoosiers.” There are two kinds of dumb. The first is a guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon. And the second? A guy who does the same thing in John Calipari's living room. Or something like that.

Regardless, UK seems content to deal with Miles' comments, rather than respond to them.

If there's any team in America that deserves to talk a little smack, it's the Wildcats. But they just left the bait lying there on the table.

“I don't know why,” Andrew Harrison said. “Teams like to say stuff. We don't like to get into all that. We just come out and play.”

“Not what we do,” sophomore Marcus Lee said. “You're not going to hear a lot of guys in here talking.”

Admirable restraint. But don't expect it to carry over to the basketball court. Willie Cauley-Stein said such talk “adds fuel to the fire.”

“Now I'm kind of juiced,” he said, upon hearing Miles' comments. “This game is going to be fun. They made it kind of personal now.”

The game already had the potential to be a bit ugly. Putting a full-court and 1-3-1 press in front of the Wildcats could very well be like pouring gasoline on the proverbial couch fire. Now come these comments, which make the matchup more combustible.

But if burning things is your game, perhaps UK-WVU could be the place to be.

One interesting note. Most UK players I talked to couldn't tell you anything about WVU's 1-3-1 zone. Harrison said the team had not studied it much on film. He said Calipari was mainly interested in getting the team's demeanor right heading into the game.

Cauley-Stein said UK had faced teams that press before. He mentioned Arkansas and Louisville. He said UK had faced teams that were physically tough before. He mentioned Cincinnati and Louisville. 

I didn't watch ESPN's “How to beat Kentucky” special the other night. Can someone tell me, was “tick the Wildcats off before the game?” a part of the strategy?

The teams met in the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and in 2011. Now they meet again, in the Sweet 16 in 2015. And here I am without my big announcer voice. Because this time (pause for effect) it's personal.

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