By now, Wisconsin hates to hear the name Harrison. Actually, I could have said the same thing exactly a year ago. Badger Nation might never forget the moment when Aaron Harrison, who led the No. 8 seeded Kentucky Wildcats in last year’s NCAA tournament along with twin brother Andrew, hit the jackpot from behind the arc with six seconds left on the clock to send the No. 2 seeded Badgers packing.
The Badgers had the sweet privilege of meeting the Wildcats in the Final Four again this year for a shot at redemption, with both teams earning a No. 1 seed this time around. However, during the time leading up to this match made in heaven, it could be argued that nobody other than the Badgers themselves believed they could beat Kentucky and shame the Harrison name on national television. As for everyone else, I’m sure plenty of people thought they had a better chance of winning the lottery than Wisconsin being able to beat Kentucky.
But as it turns out, Wisconsin didn’t even need to shame the Harrison name in the national spotlight. Andrew Harrison did a favor for the Badgers and shamed his own name during the postgame press conference when he used a racial slur to classify Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column before Kentucky throttled West Virginia saying that Kentucky could eventually lose to Wisconsin because Kentucky’s young and immature team would not be able to handle the spotlight. This immaturity manifested in the form of classlessness and a lack of sportsmanship after the Final Four game.
It is a basketball tradition for both teams to shake hands after the game and congratulate each other. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see the entire Kentucky team line up to shake the Badgers’ hands. Other than the Harrison twins, the most notable player who refused to shake hands was Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who could be seen on camera walking off the court immediately after the game.
It’s also notable that Cauley-Stein basically committed to the NBA draft during a short interview in the locker room. Although many experts project Cauley-Stein to be a top-10 pick in the draft this June, you don’t just make a big decision like that right on the spot. You still sit down with your family, friends and team before coming out publicly and saying that you’re entering the draft.
Cauley-Stein also said that the players will go back to Kentucky with their headphones on and mouths shut, a clear indication of an immature squad not coming to terms with its loss.
On the day when my dreams came true and Kentucky lost to Wisconsin, the Wildcats failed to give credit where credit is due. Sports are nothing without sportsmanship, and I can only hope that young players take a lesson from those classless boys in blue and white.