Being a Kentucky Basketball fan is bittersweet. We have the hottest coach in the game who is recruiting and getting the best players available. When you add that in with Kentucky Basketball being the most prolific and storied program in college history, you wind up with the greatest fan base of insatiable hopefuls you could ever imagine. Exhibit A to this fact is none other than the rocky start of the 2015-2016 men’s basketball season.
When I use the word rocky, I use it in a very liberal sense. The Cats now sit at #5 in the rankings with a record of 8-1. Most fan bases would have to sit on their hands to keep from clapping if their team was in our team’s position; never mind the fact that we are full of NBA talent and lottery picks. Maybe, it would be more accurate to say that the Cats have not had the best start. Either way, one thing is certain, and that is there is a massive fan base that is chomping at the bit to see more from this talented squad than they have witnessed so far.
At a glance, the talent packed roster and nearly unblemished record nine games into the season would seem to be stellar even to the “more, more, we want more” Big Blue Nation. However, those who cry that this team is not satisfactory are not fuming over a record. They are livid over the game play. This team is so consistently inconsistent. In one game, they are smothering Duke defensively and literally shutting down one of their best players. In another game, they are allowing UCLA eighty-seven points. Key players, such as Labissiere and Poythress, appear and dominate one minute, and then disappear and under perform with no rhyme or reason moments later. Injuries, although minor, have plagued this squad since before the regular season schedule began. To quote nearly every other tweet I see on Twitter, “This just isn’t how you want to start the season.”
I concur and sympathize with many of these frustrations. How can a seven-footer not rebound a basketball? Is he not supposed to be a lottery pick? How does a freakishly athletic, grown man among boys, physical specimen such as Alex Poythress simply disappear? How can one of the best guards in college basketball, who scored 22 points in the 4th quarter/overtime versus the U.S. in the Pan-Am games, seem to struggle when he does not have the ball in his hands? These are all very serious questions and I could ask many more like them.
Just before all these frustrations bubble over into self-induced madness, I remember that this team is not last year’s team and that team is not coming back. This is what we have. What do we have? A phenomenally talented, extraordinarily young group of boys trying their best to live up to standard set before them. They are struggling to figure out how to be the very best version of themselves while yet working as a team. Simply stated, they are trying to gel. What is it going to take to get them where the Big Blue Nation wants them to be? Time, practice, tough games, time, close wins, maybe another loss or two, more practice, maybe a blowout win, and time. Did I mention time? Sadly, time is one of the few things on the above list that this fan base is not generous with. We see all this team has going for it and we want them to succeed now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, not by March, but now. Be that as it may, now is not going to happen.
My simple advice is this: try very hard to have some patience with this team. Trust me, no one wants them to win more than they do themselves. The most difficult task they will face this season is the mountain they currently trekking; Mt. Come-Together, if you will. Moreover, you can see these young men are trying to figure this out under Cal’s direction and Ulis’ leadership. That is what I find promising. They are trying. So, let us shake out our clinched fists, un-bunch our underpants, count to ten, and take deep breaths. We are only nine games in to a potentially spectacular basketball season. Enjoy the ride.
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