Kentucky Basketball: Is Duke Chicken?

This post over at Duke Basketball Report is the sort of every-so-often shot across the bow that websites from both the Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils occasionally fire at each other.  To me, it's kind of fun to go back and forth with the Blue Devil bloggers and their condescending, insufferable fans.  Of course, I'm sure their opinion of Kentucky fans is no less unflattering.

It seems that John Calipari told the assembled masses in the Telford YMCA in Richmond yesterday that Duke "will not play [Kentucky]," implying, apparently, that Calipari and UK had inquired about the possibility of playing a series with Duke which had been rejected by Duke.  DBR had this to say:

We’re not privy to any negotiations, but we know that Duke and Kentucky have talked about it in the recent past and there was an interest.  For whatever reason it hasn’t happened.

Like DBR, we are not privy to any discussions that may have been had between Duke and Kentucky, but unlike them, we are inclined to take Coach Calipari at his word -- for whatever reason, Duke will not play us.  It may just be a scheduling thing, or perhaps the schools cannot agree on a forum. Calipari is a fan of having marquis matchups like this at neutral sites, and perhaps UK and Duke could not agree on the sites or the sites were simply not available in the time frames the teams had in mind.

More likely, Duke just doesn't want to lose to a better basketball team.

As to the rest of DBR's commentary, they suggest that UK fans have not gotten over The Shot yet.  That's just silly.  Yes, we all remember that game with regret, but that loss was avenged six years later in the NCAA South Regional Final in St. Petersburg, where UK defeated current Duke assistant coach Steve Wojohowski and his Blue Devil team en route to the national championship. 

I can't speak for all Kentucky fans, but for most of the ones I know, we put "Paid" to The Shot in 1998.  The famous 1992 game was a great one in every way, and I'll never forget how sad I was that we lost, but that's just part of college basketball.  I'll also never forget how classy coach Mike Krzyzewski was in victory, and the way he sought out Cawood Ledford after the game.  It was one of the truly great moments in Duke's history, as well as Kentucky's, and despite the outcome, it is a memory that I cherish.

What I do not cherish and have not gotten over is not The Shot, but The Stomp.  The Stomp was unforgivable, the biggest reason being Duke fans not only don't apologize for it, but actively applaud it still, to their eternal shame.  It was one of those moments in college basketball that are impossible to look back on with anything but righteous anger, and of course, Duke fans as a whole reflect the petulant adolescence of Laettner as described by Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Enquirer on, even today:

"In front of several million witnesses, and replay, Laettner planted one sneak midway between the stomach and the chest of a Kentucky player who had fouled him and who was prone on the floor. He did it on purpose, not to stomp in a rib cage, but in petulance. It was a pouty, adolescent act, gratuitous, designed not to injure but to intimidate and to instigate. He turned his back and walked away, and it reminded you of the snotty little playground provocateur in grade school who would push from behind and then run inside." - by Bill Lyon, Philadelphia Inquirer, "A Perfect Case Against Duke," April 3, 1992.

DBR then worries about coming to Rupp Arena:

Nothing other than a win could come out of such a trip, and the rest would be bad, particularly if Duke did win.

Poor wittle Dookies!  The Big Bad Big Blue might say some harsh things and hurt their feewings. 

This sort of commentary makes me respect the Louisville Cardinals far more than the Blue Devils.  The Cardinals come into Rupp Arena more or less fearlessly every two years with their traitorous coach in tow, and yet somehow get safely back to Louisville, even on the extremely rare occasions where they do manage a victory.  Nobody is killed or maimed, just basketball.  Unless, of course, you knee DeMarcus Cousins in the head.  Then, there might be a little maiming going on.

And we’re guessing that Kentucky isn’t exactly fired up for a trip to Cameron either.

Wrong again.  We'd like nothing better than the opportunity to thrash you in front of your famous Crazies, and trust us, we are totally unconcerned about any violence in Durham, even if Duke has historically been the one to do physical damage -- first by stomping Aminu Timberlake, then by defacing Tyler Hansbrough.  But hey, we're not afraid.  We'll even bring you some wine and cheese to make you feel more comfortable with the idea.

By the way, you’ll notice that Duke was willing to play Calipari’s Memphis team (and beat them) in New York a few years back.

Whatever.  As he so often does, Calipari says something that is partially true while withholding the rest.

Yes.  Which makes us think it's more a fear of Kentucky than Calipari.  Frankly, I have concluded that Duke fears getting beaten like a red-headed stepchild by the Wildcats, and they understandably want no part of it.  Also, given that DBR said they weren't privy to the Duke-Kentucky game conversations, how, prithee, do they know that Calipari is withholding anything?  Oh, I know -- his lips are moving, right?  Never heard that before.

Most likely, Calipari's just telling it like it is.  It's on you, Duke boys and girls.  We're willing.  In fact, we're more than willing -- we're downright anxious.  Chomping at the bit.  Can't wait.  Bring. It. On.

That is, if you've got the nerve.

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