The Big Blue Nation has been riding a wave of hype for over a week now. There was the #12 Volleyball Cats facing #11 Florida last Wednesday (the Cats swept the match). The UK Men’s Soccer team clinched the C-USA regular season title. And of course, there was the matter of that little football game against Georgia on Saturday to determine the winner of the SEC East.
Now, in the blink of an eye, here we are with basketball season starting and again, more hype as the Cats opening game was against a fellow top 5 team (and much disliked by the BBN), Duke. Two of the top recruiting classes in the country. Multiple projected lottery picks for the 2019 NBA Draft. Duke versus UK. Period. How could this not be one of the biggest games of the year? It’s The Champions Classic for crying out loud. The name alone has to mean this is a super important game.
Except that it really wasn’t. Other than bragging rights, there’s nothing about this game on November 6th that will have much, if any bearing on how things play out in the NCAA tournament in March. Yeah, you guessed it:
Nothing matters until March.
Also, know this: the opening 3 paragraphs of this story were written long before the tip-off Tuesday night. Win or lose, this was how my story was going to be written. A loss on night 1 of the season does not dictate how the season will play out. Had the Cats won, my advice would have been to keep that in perspective and not get too high. By the same token, don’t get too down on the Cats either.
There are plenty of teaching moments for Cal and it’s very clear the Cats need a lot of work on defense, which is consistent with most of Cal’s teams in November. There is no question the effort and energy were there for Kentucky. But the execution, well, let’s say that is a work in progress. Nights like this can happen.
Except you pretty much never see it happen to a Kentucky team, specifically a Calipari-coached Kentucky team. This is the team with that rare experience and some outstanding freshman talent. But nothing seemed to work. Even free throws would go 2/3 into the basket only to come out again.
Something else you never see: throngs of the BBN exiting a venue with over 11:00 left in the game. OK, you might see that in Rupp Arena with a game well in hand, but never on the road or at a neutral site. It was just that kind of night.
So, naturally, Cat fans are in full-blown panic mode. If UK can’t beat Duke now, there goes all hope of winning banner #9 next spring. This must be true, right? I mean, it’s not like any Calipari team has ever gotten a lot better as the season progresses. What you see in November must surely be what you’ll see in March.
Of course, that is complete and utter nonsense. These Cats will get better and they will recover from this thrashing. Their pride is no doubt hurt and the fans are none too happy. But, it’s one game. In November.
After all, nothing matters until March.
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