THE RUN IS OVER KENTUCKY
TURNS BACK EACH RALLY, TOPPLES UMASS
The University of Massachusetts basketball team, ranked No. 1 in the nation and first in the hearts of New England sports fans, finally went down last night….
The 1995-96 Minutemen were a team of no retreat, no surrender and no regret. In a winter of record snowfall, the Sons of John Calipari gave us a season of utter content. While we were battered by a succession of storms — and bored by mediocre Bruins and bad Celtics — the Minutemen cruised through most of the winter as the nation's top-ranked team
They pushed their cause to the ultimate event, the Final Four. And in their last moment of glory, they cut Kentucky's 15-point second-half lead to 3 in the final minute. But in the end, they could not overcome the blue-chip, blue-ribbon, blue-clad Wildcats. UMass finished its starry season with a lofty record of 35-2.
So now there will be no more storms and no more college basketball for the sports fans of our region. We have prolonged winter long enough and it's time for spring. The Red Sox open their season tomorrow in Texas.
"I was proud of our guys," Coach Calipari said after the defeat. "We gave ourselves a chance to win against a great basketball team. We refused to lose and played hard at the end."
…Calipari's band of warriors was a team that awoke an alumni group that's been too sleepy for too long. UMass fans last night left the arena with their heads held high.
"We showed the country how we play basketball," said Calipari. "When I think of what these young men have done for the Commonwealth, and what they've done for the state system . . . People now are proud to say that our state system is as good as anybody's."
It took a team of players from Puerto Rico, Hartford, Baltimore and New York to bring out this kind of state pride. For the first time in memory, Massachusetts students and graduates are bragging about their university. They are true to their school. And their wonderful team was worthy to the finish."
Boston Globe, March 31, 1996.