The 2012-13 Season ended poorly for the Kentucky Wildcats last year, losing in the semifinals to Grand Valley. After spending most of the season ranked #2 in the nation, expectations had been high, but a grueling match against Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the elimination match drained Kentucky’s players for the next match. Recently, Kentucky’s new captain, Jon Firquin, sat down to give me his thoughts on nationals, and what he expects to happen this year.
SS: Last year your team spent almost the entirety of the season ranked #2 in the standings, but this year are picked to be #3. It’s a small drop but in your view, where should UK be ranked and why?
JF: Well to be honest I like where we’re at. You have to respect the national champions (Grand Valley), and JMU will be good this year, without a doubt. With that being said we’re definitely going to have to work hard to stay at the three spot, but with a solid sophomore class to replace our missing seniors, along with the many returning players we’re putting ourselves in position to run for the title.
SS: Speaking of your returning players, some teams who have never seen Kentucky play, and may have only heard of them; obviously know the name Wes Hopkins. How do you keep the new or current guys from getting the mindset that it’s Wes and then just everybody else on your team?
JF: Those who haven’t seen us play have to realize that you can’t be the number three team in the nation with just one person. It takes a team mindset. Wes is just a part of that mindset along with all other guys on the team. The new guys coming in see that in the way we practice and the way we play.
SS: Alright, looking ahead, what sort of valuable experiences do you think your team gained from hosting last year’s national tournament?
JF: Well first off it was a great experience and team builder, and just fun for everyone involved. As far as looking ahead, I think getting beat outside of the finals was a really good for us. We went into it like we were the best team and very over confident. Coming into this new season we are gonna be ready for every game like we’re the underdog.
SS: If you had to pick a team that didn’t just have the underdog mentality but truly was an underdog, who would you say could make some real noise this year and possibly take out a team like UK?
JF: Dang I’m not exactly sure (later answered as Ohio State).
SS: How far do you personally think UK will make it this year?
JF: Well if we put in the right amount of work and we have our 20 guys all in this year, we could go all the way. It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to play smart but I believe we could pull of the upset. We have some unfinished business.
SS: Alright and who are you looking forward to playing the most this year?
JF: Grand Valley for sure. They’re on top right now, and that’s where we want to be. Not to mention they are the ones who put us out this past year haha.
SS: Alright and my last question: celebrity crush then (childhood) and now?
JF: Childhood crush would be the the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and current celebrity crush would have to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
There’s UKs new captain for everyone, boldly predicting that UK has the capability to knock off Grand Valley this year, while refusing to be ashamed for having a crush on a Disney movie character. Hopefully there are great things ahead for UK this year!