By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky fan Andrea Tucker of Winchester is trying not to be “intoxicated” by UK’s play in the Bahamas — a plea coach John Calipari made to fans after his team routed four exhibition opponents.
She went to the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis when 38-0 UK lost to Wisconsin — “I can’t even begin to explain how heartbreaking leaving that arena was. I cried the whole way home,” she said. She left the Bahamas impressed with the Cats’ play but won’t start looking for Final Four tickets or hotel rooms in Minneapolis quite yet.
“I don’t want to jinx us by buying early. If we get to Minneapolis, we will more than likely be there but I never like to get the cart before the horse. This generally means I pay more trying to find tickets and hotel.”
She is looking for tickets to UK’s actual season-opening game against Duke Nov. 6 in Indianapolis.
“If anyone has any extra (tickets), we will take them,” she said.
However, don’t doubt for a minute that she’s not a lot more intoxicated about UK — just like most fans are — than what Calipari wants.
“I will admit I made a bet at the sports book at Atlantis that my Cats would win (national championship) number nine — 7 to 2 (odds) and favorite of all the teams,” she said. “We are leaving here excited about the upcoming season and so glad that we made the trip. It really has been a trip of a lifetime and we hope they come back in 2022.”
Tucker went to the Bahamas with her husband, Heath, and youngest daughter, 8-year-old Mollie Grace. The Tuckers also went to the Bahamas four years ago and she said then she told her husband if UK came back, they were coming.
“So this trip is was a no brainer,” she said.
Tucker enjoyed how much fun it seemed that the players had with each other during the trip.
“I was really impressed by the how close the entire team seemed to be. They are a great group of boys who are so nice and have electric personalities,” Tucker said. “On the court sophomore Nick Richards was fun to watch and P.J. (Washington) is always fun to watch. My daughter will say her new favorite is Tyler (Herro).
“It seemed like people were picking up the chemistry on the TV, but in person and seeing them just around the property it is real. They seem to really enjoy each other.”
Calipari emphasized the same thing after the final game and says that’s one major reason he’s so excited about this season. Tucker said “Bahamas Cal” was both giddy and relaxed.
“He walked around the property with Ellen and took pics with anyone who asked. He may not say it, but you can just tell he is super excited about this team,” Tucker said.
Atlantis is a beautiful resort with prices that can be a bit high. Yet for the Tuckers, the “trip was totally worth every penny” it cost. It started two days before UK played its first game when they were at what she calls the “not so Lazy River” at the resort.
“My daughter had a float she was eyeing to get for herself and she looked up at me so serious and said, ‘Nick Richards just took my float.’ I thought to myself, ‘Wow. How many little kids would love to be in her shoes right now?’” Tucker said.
At the final game on Sunday, the Tuckers were picked randomly to get courtside seats.
“It will be the closest we get to them (the players in a game) all year. We have season tickets but in the upper arena (at Rupp Arena),” the Winchester fan said.
Mollie Grace was also one of the youngster who took part in basketball drills on the court at halftime of the second game when the resort lost electricity for a brief time. SEC Network analysts Dan Dakich and Seth Greenberg put youngsters at the game through a series of basketball drills and Greenberg even took a selfie with the Tuckers.
“We also met and spent quite a bit of time with Immanuel Quickley’s family. His aunt and grandmother were just lovely,” Andrea Tucker said. “We feel like we now have a more personal connection with this team and we have memories, especially for our 8 year old, that we will never forget.”