Date story was published: Sunday, December 21, 1986
All men wish. But it is a terrible thing for a man to get his wish and find he is better off without it.
Last night, Mike Jarvis was not such a man.
At Thursday's UKIT luncheon, Boston University's Jarvis had made his intentions clear. He wished his team would make the finals of Kentucky's annual holiday tournament. And he wished to find the Wildcats there waiting.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"The possibility excites me," he had said. "It is great to think about."
Then it came true. And although Kentucky won, 81-69, for their 25th tournament crown, Jarvis was hardly sorry for having wished.
"It was a hell of game," said Mike Jarvis, smiling. "I enjoyed it."
At least all but the last five minutes. Before that, for 35 minutes, the Terriers, from a small school known more for hockey than hoops, played the mighty Wildcats dead even before falling back at the end.
"But we had 'em worried," Jarvis said, smiling. "We really did."
"Them" was not so much the Wildcats, but the crowd at Rupp Arena, the 23,000 yelling for the blue and white. Back home in Boston, in a combination hockey/basketball facility, the Terriers draw maybe 2,000 for their games.
"It's funny," said Jarvis. "You get in a place with 23,000, minus maybe 50, who are expecting the home team to win. It's when they get quiet that you know the crowd's involved. They're worried."
The thought made him smile.
The thing was, Jarvis thought his team could win. He proved that early. Sure he was just an unknown college coach, two years ago a high school coach whose claim to fame was having tutored Patrick Ewing. And sure this was Kentucky he was playing and this was Rupp Arena.
"In college basketball, when you're on the road you're really down 15 before the game even starts. Everybody knows that," said Jarvis.
He wanted to show he knew it, too. When the calls started going UK's way early, he objected. Loudly. He got a technical. More important, he didn't back off. Another call against BU. "Does Kentucky always play with six guys?" Jarvis asked Allie Prescott. Technical No. 2. Only 4:16 had gone by.
"I didn't want my kids to think for one minute I wasn't serious about winning this game," Jarvis said. "I had to let my kids know it and I had to let the men in the black and white know it."
All must have listened. In the first half, Kentucky was in the bonus with 13:45 left. BU wasn't in the bonus until only 2:42 was remaining. In the second half, however, the Terriers were in the bonus by the 12:56 mark. "We just didn't take advantage of it," Jarvis said.
Still, the Terriers played very well, trailing by five at the half, then taking the lead in the second half. The Terriers were actually up 57-52 with 9:30 remaining. "You bet your life we were in it," Jarvis said.
Then they fell out. Kentucky, behind Ed Davender, behind Rex Chapman, took control, tying the game at 62, then scoring the next nine points to put the trophy away.
"It was played the way I anticipated," Jarvis said. "We knew we could give Kentucky a hell of a game. We knew they were gonna have to beat us to win. And they did."
He also said this: "We came in here hearing that this Kentucky team wasn't a great team. That's as big a lie as I've ever heard in my life."
And whoever said, "Be careful what you dream, for it just might come true." Well, as far as Jarvis is concerned, they were lying too.
"This game could do everything for our program, I think," he said afterward. "First of all, it confirms the confidence we have in our kids and our team to play against the top competitions. It should help in our efforts in recruiting, to maybe get a player like a Rex Chapman.
"We made a lot of friends here. And I think we gained a lot of respect."
So when Mike Jarvis goes back to Boston they'll no doubt ask him the same questions. What was it like, to play Kentucky, to play in front of 23,000 people? Was it all you thought it would be?
And Jarvis will repeat what he said last night.