ND students react to Kentucky loss
Selena Ponio | Monday, March 30, 2015
This past Saturday, Notre Dame men’s basketball fans traveled to Cleveland and left disappointed as the No. 3 seed Irish lost against top-seeded, undefeated Kentucky. Kentucky eked out a victory at the last minute with a final score of 68-66.
Sophomore Kaitlin Farren was at the game in Quicken Loans Arena and said even though the Irish suffered a loss, she thought it was the best basketball game she had ever seen.
“It was such a fun atmosphere, so though I did feel disappointed, I was more so proud of our team for accomplishing all they did this year,” Farren said. “Honestly, I think this was, and will be, the best game of the tournament.”
Farren said Notre Dame fans were on edges of their seat throughout the entire game. Head coach Mike Brey and the Notre Dame players seemed confident while Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Kentucky players seemed nervous, she said.
“The ND fans fed off of that nervousness,” Farren said. “It was so much fun that ND, a team that so many people refuse to believe has talent, could freak Kentucky out so much.”
Junior Kelsey Sullivan also attended the game and said although she was disappointed by the loss, at the end of the game she still felt nothing but pride for the Irish.
“At the end of the day they made it to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1979, so they should be nothing but proud,” Sullivan said. “From not even making the tournament last year to losing by one shot to an undefeated Kentucky team in the Elite Eight this year, they’ve had an awesome season.”
Both Sullivan and Farren said senior forward Pat Connaughton’s thunderous dunk late in the second half was one of the most memorable moments of the game. Sullivan said at that moment the crowd went wild and immediately got on their feet.
Farren said the dunk was impressive considering the height disadvantage the Irish had.
“Kentucky has a huge team — they had 20 inches over us — and I expected that we’d have to spend most of the game outside the 3-point line taking long shots, but the guys did such a good job taking it to the hoop and getting inside the paint,” Farren said.
Farren said watching the game, it was obvious that a huge reason the team worked so fluidly was because of the leadership under Connaughton and senior guard Jerian Grant.
“I wish Jerian and Pat could stay because I think they add a lot to the team dynamic and are just unbelievable leaders and motivators, but I think next year we have the strength and stamina to be just as great, if not better, as we were this year,” Farren said.
The common feeling in the arena was disappointment that the Irish almost managed to capture what would have been only their second Final Four appearance in program history. However, both Farren and Sullivan agreed there was no lack of Irish pride despite the loss.
“It was a great season,” Sullivan said. “Look at the Final Four, they beat two of those teams and one of them twice. They did not disappoint us, they made us proud.”