By LARRY VAUGHT
Wofford coach Mike Young expected to have a good team this year and that’s why he had non-conference games with Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Mississippi State to help prepare the Terriers for a game like the one against Kentucky this afternoon in Jacksonville in the NCAA Tournament second round.
“I’m not having any trouble yet in getting those games. May not be the games I want,” Young said Friday. “I’m going to go to Duke next year, but I do like those games, and I do like challenging our team in November and December, and I think that pays huge dividends once you get into league play.
“We may get our ears pinned back tomorrow (by Kentucky), but it will not be because my team is intimidated. We went to Phog Allen Fieldhouse. We had North Carolina at home, Oklahoma, very, very good. You know, there is a method to the madness. I do — our non-league schedule is always really hard.”
North Carolina is a No. 1 seed — and beat host Wofford by 11 to start the season. Oklahoma routed Ole Miss in the NCAA first round but beat visiting Wofford only 75-64. Kansas blasted Wofford 72-47 but Woodford beat host South Carolina by 20 points and lost 98-87 at Mississippi State.
“It’s a different deal tomorrow. We’re playing the Wildcats of Kentucky, and I can’t wait. I have such great admiration for Coach Calipari and what he’s done at UMass and Memphis and now here at Kentucky. It’ll be a wonderful day for our team and our players,” Young said Friday.
“I can’t imagine a team more confident, and that’s earned. We haven’t lost since December 19th, and of the four losses, they’re all playing in the NCAA Tournament this. Those were all good games. We were tied or trailed by a couple at the eight-minute mark at Kansas, and the wheels came off. The wheels can come off and have come off for a lot of people in that building.
“You know, so again, they may whip our tail, but it will not be because my kids are scared. They’ll come out ready to fight.”
Young admits there might be more “mystique” for him going against Kentucky than there is for his players.
“Way back, I remember sitting and listening to that AM radio station through the Carolinas and Virginia and Kentucky, West Virginia and listening to Cawood Ledford and that ’78 team (that won the national title at UK), and those were great, great — are great, great memories,” Young said.
“To strap it on tomorrow and walk out there and face UK, I mean, that’s a highlight. That will be a highlight for my team. That’ll be something they’ll never forget.”