Good evening, friends, and greetings from beautiful Cleveland, Ohio. I'm writing this from my perch atop the Renaissance Hotel, where my bathroom tub is fortunately poop-free and the wi-fi is expensive. (Because this is the media hotel, and making reporters pay for wi-fi makes total sense. Thanks, NCAA.)
Anyhow, I arrived in Cleveland this afternoon and made my way to "The Q" (that's what they call Quicken Loans Arena here...get it? It's hip) via "The Walkway to Gateway," a series of pedestrian walkways the connect the hotel, the Tower City Center Mall (where the most upscale store may be Champs Sports, if that tells you anything), a movie theater, the Horseshoe Casino, and the arena. It's awesome if you don't mind hoofing it a bit, and when the temperature dips down into the teens on Friday, I don't think I'll mind that at all. After discovering a delicious Mexican restaurant down the street this evening, I may need the cardio.
This entire intro was just a reason to share the song "Skyway" by The Replacements with you guys, because from the moment I stepped onto the Walkway, it's been in my head.
OK, now we can move on.
West Virginia's Daxter Miles was stupid enough to poke the bear
What's the last thing you want to do if you're West Virginia right now? Poke the bear. Well, Mountaineer freshman Daxter Miles was just that dumb today, telling reporters that after tomorrow's game, Kentucky will be 36-1.
“Salute to them getting up to 36-0, but tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1. They’re gonna be 36-1,” Daxter repeated for emphasis.
He wasn't done yet.
“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, so their time will come, and I think we’re going to pull it out.”
You can imagine what Willie Cauley-Stein thought of that
“Now I’m kind of juiced," Willie said when a reporter informed him of Daxter's remarks. "This game is going to be really fun. They made it kind of personal now. It’s just going to be one of them games, that I’m telling you, if you want to watch a good game, you’re going to want to watch this game because dudes is lit. Dudes is really ready to play.”
If that weren't enough, junior Jonathan Holton said that he's really tired of hearing about the Cats.
“Honest to God, I got goosebumps and chills right now, I’m ready to play," Holton said. "I’ve done heard too much about Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky.”
Holton let us in on West Virginia's game plan for tomorrow. “If Willie Cauley-Stein let the ball go up, you have to go hit him, you can’t just let him fly to the rim thinking you can go up and get the rebound,” Holton said. “Nah. You’ve gotta put a body on those guys and I’m definitely going to put a body on somebody tomorrow.”
Holton may have had my favorite quote of the day
The Miami native was hilarious, chatting it up with reporters and talking about the Cats like a true Jan, echoing every point in threes. This, however, is probably the quote of the day for me:
"We honestly know who we’re playing against. It ain’t like we’re playing against the Sisters of the Poor or nothing like that. We’re playing against Kentucky, so you have to come out for that game ready."
The Sister of the Poor could not be reached for comment.
Your rear windshield wiper isn't as cool as this rear windshield wiper
There's a new Cal to the NBA rumor because it's March
Death, taxes, and John Calipari to the NBA rumors. Those are the only certainties in life. The latest Cal to the NBA rumor popped up courtesy of an "unnamed front office official" to NorthJersey.com, and it's so generic it's really not even worth quoting in full. Basically, the person said Cal "desperately wants" to coach in the NBA again because he failed with the Nets. That same source was probably also cited as saying Ryan Lemond "desperately wants" a Doughdaddy Doughnut because he had one one time and it was great. That's the same narrative we've heard for the last five years about Cal, and it has yet to actually come to fruition.
Don't think that the fact Kentucky's playing in "The Q," aka LeBron's house, is lost on everyone this weekend. The players were repeatedly asked what it felt like to play in The Q and whether or not LeBron had been around. "No, we're focusing on the game," Andrew Harrison said. "I have no idea, really."
A Cleveland fan in the stands got up and shouted "Hey Cal! Come to Cleveland to coach LeBron!" That fan was immediately booed by the UK fans. In his press conference today, Cal was even asked if he ever wondered how his life would be different had he taken the job with the Cavs.
"No, I haven't, and this thing that I have taken on is all-consuming but I've kept an eye on Cleveland because I'm a fan, obviously LeBron and I go back a ways and watching what they're doing and how they're coming together, knowing stuff doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for things to click, and I think Dave's doing a great job, I've said it before, and obviously the best player in the universe is LeBron and I'm happy for him and being able to come home and do the things that he's doing."
Enough of that now, Cleveland media.
Alex and EJ had some fun in the locker room today
It was really good to see Alex, who told me he is "ecstatic" to join his team again in Cleveland.
Need a football fix?
The team will hold an open practice for fans and media on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Tim Couch Practice Fields near the Nutter Training Center. Nick Roush will be there and I know he'd love some company. I can't think of a better way to pregame for the Elite Eight. (Because after Daxter's comments, Cats are gonna win. Don't piss Willie off.)
Matt and Ryan will be live from gorgeous Cleveland in the morning
Drew and I will be here for you up until tipoff at 9:45 p.m. Get some rest, because it's going to be a late one.
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