• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - No game meaningless for UK fans

At first glance, Jenny Cummins seemed to have a dilemma. UK's first-round SEC tournament game against Georgia began at 1 p.m. Friday, March 10 - a work day - and would last at least two hours. For the fledgling Shelter Insurance agent, doubling the length of her lunch break might seem a tall order. But barring a direct order from her boss, there was no way Cummins was going to miss what some might consider a sure win and not-too-meaningful game. After all, UK was going to be a high seed in the following week's NCAA tournament, no matter how Cal's Cats fared in the SEC tourney. Yes, losing the first game against a sizable underdog might cost the Cats a seed, but if wasn't a must-win game, it was still a must-watch game for UK fans like Cummins. "I think for most people who lived here growing up, it's the way we were raised. I mean, you don't miss March Madness," said Cummins. If the packed late-lunch crowd at Ricardo's was any indication, few Woodford County residents missed the first installment of March Madness. Asked whether she had a hard time asking her Alabama-born boss for time off, Cummins smiled and said, "No, not at all. She understands." Sitting next to Cummins was Latasha Campbell, a Shelter agent who works in Lexington, who pointed out that pleasure and business can mix. "Well, it's March Madness. It comes around once a year. And it's also a lunch hour, plus it's a marketing (opportunity). I can talk about insurance with anybody that's here," Campbell said. Next to Campbell was her significant other, Trinity Wimsatt, an Indiana resident who, like everyone else at the table save the reporter, was wearing UK blue. (The reporter is a Lexington native whose father did business with Adolph Rupp and Joe Hall. He hopes he will be forgiven for not having a clean UK blue shirt.) Scottsburg, Ind., where Wimsatt lives, isn't quite Indiana Hoosier country, Wimsatt said. "It's about 50-50 - half IU, half UK. I live in the southern part," said Wimsatt, who added, to his girlfriend's evident approval, that UK was his favorite team. Then he went further. "I'd never be caught in an IU - actually, I've got one (IU) shirt. That's just because I got free tickets to a football game up there, so I went and bought a shirt," Wimsatt said. Just before the halftime buzzer went off, UK guard Isaiah Briscoe hit a 15-footer to put the Cats up by seven points, and the Ricardo's crowd let out a roar that shook the sturdy building. Malik Monk had an off game, and a few players fought foul trouble, but UK won 71-60 and was never really threatened in the second half. Turns out Cummins was there for more than the Cats. She was also there for Bobby Cummins, who died March 7, 2012, two days before UK played its first-round SEC tournament game in a season that saw the Cats win the school's eighth national championship. "I never missed a March Madness with my dad. We always watched it together," Cummins said. Yes, even the SEC tournament, she added. And yes, it turns out Cummins was never in jeopardy of missing the Georgia game. Sitting across the table from her was her boss, Jan Frasier. Campbell instructed Frasier, "We do not say, 'Roll Tide!'" "Roll Tide!" Frasier shot back semi-quietly. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native was also wearing blue, and seemed to fit right in for other reasons, too. "Oh, it's wonderful. It reminds me of Alabama. The same passion and the love and loyalty ..." Frasier said. She knew of the sporting links between UK and Alabama (Bear Bryant coached at UK before going to 'Bama and C.M. Newton played at UK before coaching at 'Bama) and went to five UK hoops games this year. So letting Cummins take a long lunch was hardly a tough call. "No, we're just taking our lunch hour right now," she said. "Your lunch two hours," the reporter said. "Extended lunch hour," Cummins responded. Then, the traditional end-of-the-interview question was posed: "Anything else you want to say?" Frasier didn't pause. "Go Cats!" she said.

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