Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Yes, Kentucky Basketball makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. It makes me wanna crawl under the covers after every loss and not speak to anyone for like a week. It makes me wanna die inside when we lose in March and the season is over. It makes me so emotional sometimes that I can’t even stand myself. But what college basketball or sports team in general doesn’t have those lows?
With all of those sad times though, comes the best times. Wins and losses come in strides and I’ve learned to accept that.
Now on the flip side, I know what it felt like at the all time high too and that kinda keeps me sane. John Calipari resurrected Kentucky Basketball. John Wall. Brandon Knight torching #1 Ohio State. The night we won a National title back in 2012, I cried the day those boys rolled that big blue bus into Rupp Arena and Darius Miller got off with the net around his neck. Aaron Harrison shots and the team that was never suppose to be in the tournament according to some. That 38 win squad with the most amazing stories. Tyler Ulis. De’Aaron Fox torching UCLA. I remember it all, the players that each year encompassed, and I smile.
Last night was one of the hardest nights in recent memory for Kentucky fans to swallow, me included. A recruiting blowup and a loss.
The loss: I’m not saying that I liked everything the guys did on the floor, but I’m not saying I hated everything either. I know this team can’t be compared to years past, but if past teams have taught me anything– it’s that it’s not over until it’s over and that’s in March/April. Cliche as that may be, I know the statement “Nothing matters until March” has worn thin because you have to get “good wins” or the “gimme” ones to get a good seed in March. You have to prove something now to show your worthy, I get that. But the committee hates Kentucky and puts them in “death’s den” each year regardless. I know we still need to win to help our case and the location, I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is regardless of the bad losses and the awesome wins, I can’t give up on this team, I won’t.
Here’s some of the things that keep me from throwing in the towel on this Wildcat squad:
- Lets be real, Florida isn’t ranked but they are a top 10, if not top 5 caliber team. They are one of the best scoring teams in the country and we held them to 66 points. They went 33% from the floor and just 20% from behind the 3-Point arc and if you know Florida teams, that isn’t the normal. So, it sounds like our defense in which has been in question the last couple of games has improved immensely.
- We weren’t in foul trouble like the last couple of games. If you remember the South Carolina game you’d know what I’m talking about. Florida wasn’t in the bonus until the end of the first half.
- Quade finally is back from injury. Yes, he looks a little off with his shots but it may take a few more practices to get fully back in the swing of it.
- Jarred is back in the lineup. Many thought he’d never play a day this season, but he’s done things in two games that has turned everyone’s heads. Grabbing boards, fighting through his “out breath moments” and giving it his all. He is a difference maker and when he gets to fully practice and play a full game, watch out. Remember he’s only scrimmaged twice. He can’t go a full game yet because of how he becomes out of energy quickly, but that will soon change.
- Gabriel and Killeya-Jones stepped up and got hard rebounds, brought energy, and showed fight. They have the leadership this team needs, to there.
- At times last night we saw flashes of energy, heart and hustle and that is the only thing that the BBN asks for. Dunks and diving on the floor.
Of course, that all got overlooked because it was an “L” in that column that many fans only see “W’s” as succeeding. Turnovers galore, bad decisions late in the game and a foul that we won’t mention. But this loss, even though it may seem like it, isn’t the end of the world. It could actually be worse. Coach Cal reiterated in the post game that “We’re going to be fine, I was worried after South Carolina, I’m not worried after this.” so I can’t help but to believe him because he’s the only one who knows the boys potential.
So I’m choosing to not give up.
Will that come back to bite me? No, because I’ve lived through an NIT year (if that so be the worst case scenario in most people’s minds) and basketball is still as exciting the very next year. So celebrate or grieve, one game at a time not five games into the future.
I’d much rather be a Kentucky fan on a bad day than another fan on a great day. That’s a line I’ll always stick by.