Sunday, March 18, 2012

{Racers} Game Two

Notice my UK shirt poking out from underneath ...
Our third-round tickets got us in to see our two favorite teams play in the NCAA Tournament, so all day I wore my UK shirt under my Murray State shirt. The plan was to take off the Racers shirt for the second game of the night. 

But Marquette beat my Racers 62-53 after I really thought my team was going to win. And I just couldn't take off my game-one shirt. 

I was sad. I was proud. 

Coach Prohm has led this team in his first year as a head coach in a way that makes me proud. As a parent, I love the way he encourages the players to be men with humble, generous character. As a fan, I appreciate the way he represents our town. As a person, I'm inspired. My heart was glad when I read he's staying in Murray.

And then there are the three seniors. They've won more games {104} than any other basketball class to come through tradition-rich Murray State. Donte Poole. Jewuan Long. Ivan Aska. You three will be missed but remembered. And we'll be glad to hear about the great things you do when you leave this place. And one of you helped my girl fall in love with basketball.

Junior Ed Daniel played the best game I'd seen from him. He was tough and big and steady and focused. Even with Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder crowding the lane. And, folks, he's coming back. Hopefully star Isaiah Canaan will too. 

Big Blue Nation -- awaiting the #1 Wildcats -- hoped on the Racers' bandwagon for awhile. I've seriously never heard so many people cheer for Murray State. Maybe those Kentucky fans just remember too much about Dwayne Wade. Maybe they appreciated the talent from a fellow Bluegrass school. Whatever the motivation, UofL's home was rockin' for the Racers. 

Admittedly, I even briefly contemplated how to make a trip to Phoenix work. I thought my Racers were going to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time. 

So when they didn't win and Marquette went on a game-clinching run, I couldn't take off my MSU shirt. I couldn't trade the navy blue for the royal blue. Not yet. I wasn't ready. 

Meanwhile, my favorite Wildcat -- Darius Miller -- was playing a fabulous game. And my least favorite -- Marquis Teague -- was showing me why Coach Calipari recruited him and starting to win me over. I saw famous super fan Ashley Judd across the floor behind the UK bench. And I decided to take pictures. 

I grew up a Big Blue fan. I can list favorite Cats. I went on a crazy, quick road trip to Houston last year because I thought those Cats could win it all. I'm a UK fan. 

Yet my alma mater stole my heart. 
We have season tickets and I put the games on my calendar when the schedule is released. My friends know our social lives in the fall and winter revolve around the basketball games. It's been this way for years. This year started out no different.

But no basketball team ever has captured my heart like the 2011-12 Racers. So I wore my Murray State shirt the rest of the night. Even while I cheered for the Cats with the little energy I had left.


There are pictures from the three tournaments games we watched here. And my earlier blog post is here. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

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