Centre excited for trip to Rupp Arena

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017



It’s not just another game, but Centre College has to try and treat it’s exhibition game against the University of Kentucky Nov. 3rd in Rupp Arena that way.

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“I know I can’t get too excited because they guys are really going to be hyped up,” said Centre coach Greg Mason. “We are going to practice and prepare just like we would for any game.”

That includes the scouting report — except Mason’s says he will use words like “bouncy, athletic, big, long” a lot more than he ever will for any Division III opponent Centre will face this season.

“Coach John Calipari does an amazing job with his guys,” Mason said. “They have so much talent again this year. But we are going to make this fun. We are not going to hold the basketball. We’re going to play just like we normally do and no matter what happens, I want my players to smile and have fun. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them.”

The players understand that. Former Bowling Green teammates Tucker Sine and Perry Ayers both have played in Rupp Arena when Bowling Green went to the state tournament. They know this game will be a little different.

“I’ve always been a Kentucky fan, so for me this is really big,” Sine said. “I enjoyed getting to play at Rupp Arena in high school and never thought I would get to play there again. We know what we are up against. But we can’t be intimidated or play scared. We just have to play.”

Ayers actually worked at UK basketball camps over the summer where he got to know several of Calipari’s players. He didn’t tell them he had grown up a Florida fan and might even do the “Gator chomp” after a big play in Rupp Arena Nov. 3rd.

“Wenyen Gabriel was really a nice guy,” Ayers said. “It was fun just being around them and seeing how they were. But I know they won’t show us any mercy in this game.”

Mason, who also grew up a UK fan and went to a game in Rupp Arena for the first time in 1978, knows his players will make lifetime memories.

“If Perry is guarding Quade Green and gets beat, I don’t want him to worry. If Hami (Diallo) swats a shot away from Tucker, I just want him to smile and keep playing,” Mason said. “We can’t run our normal stuff. We can do a pick and roll and have Nick Richards switch out on a guard. He’s just too big. That’s why if we get a (defensive) rebound, we have to push the ball. That’s our best chance to get a shot.”

Mason says the entire Centre campus has had a buzz about this game since it was announced in the summer. A lottery was held to distribute the few tickets that the Colonels got.

“Everybody is really excited,” Sine said. “We get asked about the game a lot. For Centre College, this is a pretty big deal.”