The 2013-14 season is here, and Kentucky will spend the entirety of it trying to atone for the disaster was the 2012-13 season. John Calipari’s team is trying to do something that no team in the history of college basketball has ever done: Win a national championship relying primarily on 6 freshmen who were McDonald’s All Americans. With disappointing losses to a whole bunch of teams, the team will fail to reach its ultimate goal of perfect season, and will instead try to console itself with a national title. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Bullet With Butterfly Wings: After UK beat Ole Miss on Tuesday, John Calipari took it upon himself to criticize the media, alleging that his team is treated unfairly by The Fourth Estate and even going so far as to suggest that in writing off the Cats, some writers are expressing their “hope” rather than their “opinion.” Specifically, he was referring to Kentucky’s drop in the AP poll, from 11th to 18th, after splitting a pair of road games against two teams with NCAA aspirations. Duke, conversely, rose 6 spots in the AP poll after also going .500 in a pair of road games. However, upon further review, it appears that the media was actually generous to the Cats in dropping them to 18th. After all, they lost to LSU, who is unranked. If you lose to an unranked team, you shouldn’t be ranked either, should you? Again, look at Duke. They have no trouble beating unranked teams like Vermont and Virginia. Sure, they lost to other unranked teams like Clemson and Notre Dame, but these are merely the exceptions that prove the rule. And if the media is so biased against UK like Calipari alleges, then how come professional journalist Pat Forde has yet to write an exposé on the Kentucky basketball program after years of trying to dig up the requisite dirt? Case closed.
*Disarm: Last weekend, Syracuse edged Duke in overtime, 91-89. It was an instant classic. Unfortunately, it also served to remove some of the luster from the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. For over 20 years, the 1992 Elite 8 game between UK and Duke was considered the greatest game in the history of the sport, due to the level of play on both sides, the stakes, and the ending. (Christian Laettner hit a buzzer beater to topple the Cats. Google it.) But now UK/Duke has been trumped by Syracuse/Duke, according to several folks who watched the game and are fans of one of those schools and who weren’t alive in 1992. For years, ESPN and CBS would constantly show highlights of the Laettner shot, and repeatedly seeing this had to make any Big Blue fan swell with pride. But now that Laettner has been topped by C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant and Jabari Parker, the Kentucky tradition isn’t quite what it was a week ago. But take solace, Cat fans. You’ll always have Michael Qualls.
*Drown: Last Saturday, UK traveled to Missouri and won a hard fought game against the Tigers, 84-79. This does not bode well for Kentucky. The ultimate goal of this team is to win a national championship. Unfortunately for the Cats, this will require six consecutive wins in neutral court games, not road games. It’s all well and good that this young team has shown that it is capable of winning in a hostile environment, but they will not face any hostile environments in postseason play. In fact, the NCAA Tournament crowds they will play in front of are much more likely to be pro-UK, due to the propensity of Cat fans to travel to see their team play, no matter where that may be. So how will Kentucky respond in a close game in March when they are unable to rely on motivation from an arena cheering against them? We’ll see. (But not good, I’m guessing.)
* On this date: On this date in 2014, Kentucky lost to Robert Morris in the NIT last year.