So many times in sports we hear, “they can’t afford to look past this team.” Some say this statement is irrelevant, others say it couldn’t be anymore true. Every team I have played for prepared the same way; whether it was Florida or Middle Northeast Wyoming Valley College of the Death and Blind for Gifted Children. While at Kentucky, we had a routine starting two days before each game: Practice would consist of watching film on our opponent and practicing against their plays. That night we would meet again to watch film again. The next day we would do the same exact thing. The day of the game would include a shoot-a-round where we walked through their plays one final time. Four hours before tip Joe Bologna would cook us a scrumptious pregame meal. For four years this was our routine every single time.
How many times have we seen heavily favored teams get beat by far inferior teams in terms of talent? Michigan vs. Appalachian State a year ago, UAB vs. Kentucky in the 2004 NCAA Second Round or how about Gardner-Webb vs. Kentucky in Rupp Arena. How does this happen? There are so many different factors to come into play with team sports. That is the beauty of college sports and sports, period. If the top dog always won and we knew they would, we would never watch. It is more than just players on the field and how good they look on paper. It is more than just preparing for the team by watching film and running through their plays. Coaches out coach other coaches, players mentally prepare for that particular game better than other players, player out tough and plain and simple out play each other and you can never count out good old lady luck. All these factors go into an upset. We live to see upsets unless it is our team getting beat. When it all boils down to it we are all human and anyone can beat any body on any day. Wait I take that back Matt Jones has no chance at beating me on the golf course. I could beat Matt with one arm and one leg if I had to.
As an athlete you want to prepare for every game the same exact way. Repetition is the definition of learning. When you learn to prepare the right way you learn to play the right way. Coach Brooks obviously got his troops ready to play this past Sunday and I don’t think there will be any let down in the weeks ahead as we go through an “easy” stretch of games. Also, we as fans can’t have a let down either. We need to root the same for a game against Ball State as we do for a game against Louisville. The last time I checked we get one mark in the win column for a win and one mark in the lose column for a loss.
On a lighter note, it feels real good now that those pre-game rituals are over. My pre-game rituals this fall consist of a game of golf in the morning, a beautiful afternoon a Keeneland and sipping on some good bourbon while tailgating. October in Kentucky is as good as it gets. Go Cats!