Insurance Council of New Jersey President Deana Lykins wasted no time e-mailing her friends and family to meet at Jack Demsey’s Pub — the Manhattan home base for University of Kentucky alumni — after her Wildcats beat Baylor University in the Elite Eight. And should Kentucky advance again, it will be occasion for another family affair.
“It’s a tradition to meet at the alumni bar — which is owned by a former pro player whose daughter went to UK — if we make it to the Final Four,” Lykins said. “Right now, the bar’s website is even playing ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ because that’s where we just beat Baylor.”
If Kentucky makes it to the championship round, Lykins hopes they will play against Peter Schofel‘s Ohio State University, since her team “always has a problem with Kansas,” she said. If that’s the case, Lykins’ Kentucky-obsessed father will pay her a visit.
“My brother’s birthday is on April 3, and my dad told me that if Kentucky wins in the Final Four, he’ll come up here for a visit with the entire family,” Lykins said. “My brother still doesn’t know that his birthday visit is contingent on this win.”
While Lykins is excited about Kentucky’s second straight appearance in the Final Four — though her first in NJBIZ Brackets; Kentucky alum Sam Buckley, of CB Richard Ellis, was the team’s representative last year — she’s been worrying about the team since they faced Lowell Weiner‘s Indiana University in the Sweet Sixteen.
“There was a huge Facebook discussion among Kentucky alumni during and after that game, and what I got from it was that the game was like a war against Indiana,” Lykins said.
But the real war for Kentucky fans will begin when the Wildcats take on the University of Louisville, which is playing for Nick Ojea, an associate athletic director with Rutgers University. But its Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino that brings out the worst in Lykins.
“Pitino is a really good coach, and he was beloved when he was at Kentucky,” she said. “We were OK with it when he went pro, but when he came back to college ball to coach our biggest in-state rival, all we felt was hate.”
She’s bitter, but Lykins has faith in Wildcats head coach John Calipari, who she said is “known for getting young guys into the pros.”
“This is a whole new team from last year advancing to the Final Four, and the team in November is nothing like the team in March,” Lykins said. “We beat Louisville earlier in the season when our freshmen were still playing like freshmen. They don’t play like freshmen anymore.”