INDIANAPOLIS — The Kentucky Wildcats will play the Wichita State Shockers in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Curious how much homework UK has done on its opponent, we hit the Cats with an important question on Saturday: What is a Shocker?
“What do you mean?” a bewildered Tai Wynyard said. “Like an electric bolt? That’s their mascot? I have no clue.”
He was not alone. No one in Kentucky’s locker room offered a correct answer.
“Isn’t it a bee?” freshman forward Bam Adebayo said.
“It looks kind of weird,” fellow rookie Malik Monk added, “but I don’t know what it is. Like a lightning bolt.”
Sophomore center Isaac Humphries was most confident in his response.
“I just know it’s a bug,” the 7-foot Australian native said. “I don’t know exactly what sort of bug. Maybe it stings you. I know it’s a bug, because their mascot is a bug. I don’t think it’s real. Like a fictionary bug.”
Because after all, Humphries wondered, “Is a Wildcat real?” That drew raised eyebrows from his locker neighbor, Wynyard. “Yes!”
Finally, someone sought out a little help on this question. Freshman Wenyen Gabriel wasn’t going to take a wild stab in the dark.
“Could you tell me?” he asked reporters.
OK, fine. The mascot is actually a bundle of wheat and the nickname first emerged in 1904 when a team manager offered it up because many of the school’s football players earned money in the offseason harvesting — or “shocking” — wheat in nearby fields.
That’s kind of cool, but it’s no fictionary bug.