One game stands between Tyler Austin Black and vindication. Black, whose name you may not recognize, is the individual who, on March 13, inked a seemingly silly tattoo predicting a Kentucky national championship. What seemed like a pipe dream at the time, the Cats are 40 minutes from their ninth title, and Black is two halves from owning the biggest balls in the state of Kentucky.
Why call his shot with the team having lost three of its last four regular season games? To rally the troops, of course.
“Everybody, even the most die-hard fans I knew, had just completely lost faith in Kentucky altogether. They were done with the team. Everybody pretty much gave up,” Black said. “I know we had a rocky season. I’m not blind or delusional. I was aware how bad we were doing. I was just thinking: What could I do to make people laugh, just put some life back in Big Blue Nation?”
Thanks to Coach John Calipari’s tweaks, Kentucky is playing its best ball of the season. They mowed through the nation’s most difficult region, and have a player, Aaron Harrison, who lives to take (and make) the big shot. That his ‘Cats look good right now is not lost on Black.
“I feel a whole lot better about it. Anybody watching Kentucky right now knows that they don’t want any part of them,” Black said. “It was a really surreal moment when they started stepping it up. Even though you have a gut feeling … it’s like a dream come true. It blew my mind and it’s really made me happy. The best part is being able to look at people and say, ‘I told you it was going to happen.’
“I went from the crazy idiot, the delusional stupid guy, to, ‘Well, this team is actually playing good.’ “
If Kentucky falls short, don’t expect Black to cover up his ink. He manned up in March, and will own whatever the outcome from Monday’s game.
“I’m just going to leave it. At this point, it’s a part of my story. It’s the ultimate conversation piece,” he said. “I’m not worried about removing it or covering it up or anything like that if they lose. It’s a part of me now. It’s here to stay.”
Go Big Blue Nation or go home.
[Thanks to The Courier-Journal for the quotes]