With Kentucky losing two games in the same week and one being an epic meltdown at South Carolina, there have been some very vocal fans that have been slamming individual players, the team as a whole and Coach Calipari. The criticisms are varied and many heated online debates have taken place as a result. Perhaps it’s time for everyone to face some inconvenient truths.
Nothing Matters Until March
Our own Cameron Mills repeats that phrase hundreds of time during the season, especially after a loss. And yes, it is true that a loss in January won’t prevent you from winning a National Championship. But the inconvenient truth is every team is fighting for seeding in the NCAA tournament. Admittedly, the NCAA tournament selection committee doesn’t have a track record of rewarding Kentucky when they have a great season, but they definitely make sure to punish the Cats when they have perceived “bad” losses on their resume.
“I’m Tired of Using Youth as an Excuse!”
We’ve certainly heard that phrase enough times over the past month. Coach Cal will point out mistakes players made during the game and will note they are “freshman mistakes” and that’s what happens when you have “the youngest team” in college basketball. The trend now is for fans to claim “One and Done Fatigue” and they expect players to not play like freshmen anymore. After all, it is January.
But the inconvenient truth is these players are freshmen. Granted, they are enormously talented but they don’t have a ton of college game experience. They will make mistakes. It’s not an excuse. It’s a simple statement of fact when Cal attributes issues to the team’s youth.
Stop Recruiting All Those One and Dones…and Why Didn’t You Sign All Those One and Dones?
We’ve been hearing a lot of fans provide Coach Calipari with their “expert” recruiting advice. In one breath they are demanding that Cal quit recruiting so many one and dones and in the next breath are complaining because he didn’t land more one and dones. Folks, you can’t have it both ways. You also need to recognize that Calipari has recruited quite a few players over the years that he anticipated would be multi-year players. There have been several players that may have left for the NBA before they were ready and others that developed so quickly during their time at UK that not entering the draft after one season would have been ludicrous. Some may say they want a roster full of 3 and 4-year players, but they don’t want to go through the growing pains of waiting for them to develop into dominant players.
I understand the frustrations. We can look back fondly at a time when players would come to Kentucky and would stay for at least 3 if not 4 years. We could get to know them and by Senior Night, our eyes would be filled with tears as we watched them burst through their paper hoop prior to standing at center court with their families while My Old Kentucky Home was played. But that is simply not how college basketball is today.
The inconvenient truth is Calipari will continue to recruit the best players he can find. Rest assured, he is not scanning social media to get recruiting advice from fans, not even the knowledgable BBN fan base.
This team is an embarrassment! They’ll be lucky to make the NIT! They are on life support! ________ (fill in the blank) is USELESS! It’s completely unacceptable that we haven’t won a championship for 5 years!
While this year’s Cats have had some struggles, there is absolutely no reason to believe they can’t turn things around and make a deep run into March. Some players being labeled as “useless” are the same players that 4 games prior played a significant role in getting victories for Kentucky. Embarrassing? Has this team lost to Gardner-Webb? Perhaps you forgot about the era of He Who Shall Not Be Named. Life support? Seriously? NIT-bound? How quickly fans forget the 2014 season when they all but wrote off Cal’s Cats only to see them advance to the championship game.
The inconvenient truth is national championships are not easy. Kentucky Basketball has been in existence for 114 years and they have 8 banners. Eight. That averages out to 1 every 14.25 years. Another inconvenient truth is the players you call “useless” today may be the same ones that “get it” shortly before tournament time and then all the pieces begin to click.
It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses, But Neither Is It All Gloom and Doom
The bottom line is this team still has a lot of learning and growing to do. Criticism has definitely been warranted. But it is way too early to be writing off a team that has as much talent as this group of Wildcats possesses. Now that most of the team is back from injuries and illness, a consistent rotation should help these young Cats get into a nice groove.
It’s also important to understand that we are all fans. We all want our team to win. Just because someone is criticizing the team doesn’t make them less of a fan, nor does someone who refuses to criticize earn a label of being less of a fan.
The inconvenient truth is the Big Blue Nation should come together and accept the fact that we all “fan” differently. In the end, we all want to see banner #9 come home to Lexington this year. And that is a truth that isn’t inconvenient at all.
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