Re: NCAA Basketball 2014-15
Very long but good read.
Those are words I don’t often utter, yet they apply on a wild number of counts when it comes to the 2015 Wildcats.
Thanks for effectively reminding those of us who grew up as Indiana fans that even some of the players on that incomparable 1976 IU team don’t mind if there’s someday another NCAA Division I men’s college basketball unbeaten. If Hoosier players themselves don’t mind, why should we? Those perspectives don’t get revisited without you coming close, Kentucky.
Thanks, too, for a genuinely engaging run at it. You were dang good. Genuine basketball fans should embrace how well you played.
Thanks, however, for punctuating that awards and honors and hype don’t always mean much. You reportedly had nine McDonald’s All-Americans. Wisconsin? The Badgers had zero. How cool is that?
Thanks, of course, for revealing yourself after that loss to Wisconsin. If that’s who you are, then I’m glad we know about it.
At least three of your main players blew off the postgame handshakes.
Then one of you blew a hiss to Frank Kaminsky by virtue of a three-word sentence crammed with both a racial slur and an obscenity.
Sidebar here: It was not gratifying to wake up Easter morning and have Stephen A. Smith on ESPN explain multiple times to us that we need to bear in mind that young African-American men use this slur “religiously.” Religiously? They use it in church? Doubt it. Anyway, Stephen A., if you mean their use is commonplace, the same remains true among white racists. Doesn’t make it OK, and the slur was meant negatively, period.
Bottom line, Kentucky, thanks for losing.
Most of us just do not want champions that behave the way you behaved.
To an immeasurably lesser extent, but to an extent nonetheless, I prefer my college champions to come from among kids who have actually gone to college for a while. Kids that have given us great stories about perseverance.
No, it’s not essential, but I kind of also prefer that my college champions come from colleges where the basketball teams are at least mildly representative geographically of the school bodies at-large. Wisconsin has three starters from in-state and seven in-state players on its roster.
You, Kentucky? Hard to even figure the relevance of having a state name your uniform. You were so spoiled with depth that you had roughly a two-platoon system of 10 guys averaging double-digit minutes most of the year, and still, not a single soul on either platoon from inside the Commonwealth.
I also prefer to have my college champions coached by individuals who haven’t had their signature achievements at both of their previous schools vacated due to NCAA findings. No, John Calipari was not found directly culpable at either UMass or Memphis, but those violations still happened under his watch. This is known as a pattern.
Finally, there’s this, Kentucky. If you had gone 40-0, I would have had to read and hear ad nauseam about where you rank among the all-time great teams, because so many of us today, including the so-called experts, are prisoners of the moment.
Again, Kentucky, you were dang good, but all-time good? Not even close. That IU team would’ve stepped on your throats. So would a bunch of UCLA teams that preceded them. I’d say at least a half-dozen other teams over the last dozen years would’ve handled you.
Your merits were bountiful, but your holes apparent, relative to the ultra-elites. There was no great scorer who was consistently efficient. There was no pure point guard with a dazzling assist-to-turnover ratio who could also score. If you’d been in the ACC or the Big Ten this season, rather than in the SEC (where you beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M in overtime, and escaped LSU by two), this unbeaten conversation would not have taken place in the first place.
Nevertheless, if this season has done anything, it’s changed my mind back to where it once was about whether we’ll ever have another unbeaten men’s DI team.
If this Kentucky team can come close, somebody’s going to do it someday. After all, Indiana wasn’t the only unbeaten, just the last one. If a team is the best in a given season — theoretically, at least, such a team exists every season — then it’s not outside the realm that such a team is going to wind up unbeaten.
Just a huge thank you, Kentucky, that it wasn’t you.