There won't be a huge crowd of Sam Malone
supporters at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night when Kentucky
, but there will be more than support to suit the UK freshman walk-on.
"It's going to be fun. I?have a lot of people coming to the games in New York and Connecticut (on Saturday and Sunday). "It should be terrific."
His father, Joe, says there will be four family friends from New York at Madison Square Garden. Joe Malone and his wife, who live in nearby Scituate, Ma., will be there along with two of their children. Another four friends will be driving in from Boston.
"For the games in Connecticut, there will be a bunch more people from Boston coming to the games," Joe Malone said.
They are all excited because Sam Malone has already scored in both UK's exhibition win over Morehouse and the regular-season opener against Marist when he went 2-for-2 from the field.
Sam Malone said he talked to his parents immediately after the Morehouse game when he drew a huge Rupp Arena ovation for hitting a 3-pointer.
"We hooked up on Twitter right after the game, too," the UK?freshman said. "My dad was really excited. He said then he couldn't wait to see me in New York. They are really proud of me. I'm just glad they were able to watch. I?know they were probably yelling when I?hit my first shot. My mom was probably screaming."
"We were very excited," Joe Malone admitted. "Like him, it was a hoot to see the way his teammates showed so much support and enthusiasm for him. It was a thrill. Then I got a nice call the following morning from coach Cal (John Calipari). He said, ‘Your boy had a nice hoop, his first one at Rupp.' I told him we were able to get the game on the computer and watch. But it was so thoughtful of Cal to do that. It was probably one of the first things he did that morning. It shocked me because I?know how much he has on his plate. But the tone of his voice was one of genuine excitement.
"He told me, ‘Kids that don't get as much playing time work just as hard as those that play.' He said he was thrilled to see them (the walk-on players) supported so much by fans at Rupp Arena. It was music to my ears."
Sam Malone has played at Boston Garden, the home of the Boston Celtics, but not Madison Square Garden.
"That's going to be quite a thrill for him. But every day he is living his dream at Kentucky," Joe Malone said. "He is finding one reason after another to be excited. His unabashed excitement is so much fun to watch and hear.
"The chemistry of this team is just so great. The greatest superstars and the most highly recruited kids have humility and a way about them that is genuine and warm. Nobody walks around with an attitude. It's one big happy family. Sam always has a positive attitude about him, but he considers it such a privilege to be part of the Kentucky basketball tradition. He understands how special it is. He's part of something he'll never take for granted."
Yet no one will be more proud Tuesday night than Joe Malone when he sees his son in a UK?uniform on the Madison Square Garden court.
"I have shown that picture of Sam running back to the bench with Brian Long on his back (after Sam's 3-pointer against Morehouse) and his teammates cheering. I e-mailed it to his AAU coach, high school coach, friends. His mom is a proud mom, too. A woman in Atlanta texted my wife and said she couldn't believe she was watching her little son Sam playing for Kentucky.
"It's all that stuff that makes this so special for our entire family. I?can't wait to say hello to Cal (they met when Calipari was coaching at Massachusetts) and just thank him again for the opportunity he has given my son."
There won't be a huge crowd of Sam Malone supporters at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night when Kentucky plays Kansas, but there will be more than support to suit the UK freshman walk-on.
Walk-on Sam Malone will have no shortage of fans when the Cats play this coming week