Sometimes, fans can get so caught up in a movement or feeling that they begin to lose touch with what is actually the truth. And I have felt over the last several weeks, UK fans have not been immune to this fact on several fronts. And it’s really no big deal. Part of being superfans is losing a sense of reality, and forgetting that we are just cheering on college kids playing a game, not life and death. So, let’s go over a couple things as we head into the meat of the basketball schedule:
1) OFFICIALS DON’T HATE UK OR HAVE A GRUDGE AGAINST UK
-I love it when fans blame officials for losses. They so badly don’t want to admit that their team played poorly or was coached poorly, and the officials are an easy excuse. And that certainly reared it’s ugly head after the Georgia loss. Kentucky fans immediately turned to the zebras for the loss, considering there was a 24-14 foul disparity in the game. The refs must have been cheating, right?
Well, newsflash, it says nowhere in the rules of basketball that teams must have equal amounts of fouls called on them during a game. Somewhere along the line fans got this idea that in every 40 minute game, teams fouled the same amount. In reality, that is not true. Some teams foul more than others. And against Georgia, Kentucky was fouling more. Period.
But, looking past that, this idea that refs always seem to screw us over is just beyond ridiculous. Here is the foul differential overall and in SEC play over the last 5 seasons:
2010-11: +44 (-6 in SEC play)
2009-10: +154 (+59 in SEC play)
2008-09: +31 (+1 in SEC play)
2007-08: +1 (+24 in SEC play)
2006-07: +62 (+7 in SEC play)
And I would be willing to bet that if I kept going back into the records, I would be hard pressed to find a season where UK had more fouls called on it than on it’s opponents. If anything, refs are generous to Kentucky.
2) THE NCAA IS NOT TRYING TO INTENTIONALLY HURT KENTUCKY
-We will get to Enes Kanterin just a second. But, this argument is so easily debunked and ridiculous, it should only take a couple sentences. The University of Kentucky has 7 national titles in basketball, the 2nd most in history. Kentucky has been to 13 Final Fours. If the NCAA truly hates us that bad, why would they let this happen? The University of Kentucky has brought so much money to NCAA, there is just no reason to pick on the school. And they haven’t. No probation since 1989. Do you want me to list the number of schools who HAVE been on probation since that time? Kansas. Louisville. Indiana. UCLA.
But most importantly, the 2 times that Kentucky has been on serious probation (1950’s and 1980’s), they actually admitted to what they did. UK has never been in trouble with the NCAA for things they haven’t done. Even in the Eric Bledsoe situation last summer, if the NCAA had it out for Kentucky, they would have punished UK without cause. Instead, after investigating, they backed off.
3) ENES KANTER WAS NOT COMPLETELY INNOCENT
-If thrown in a vacuum, there is no reason that UK or it’s fans could argue that Enes should be eligible. Even Kentucky admitted that Kanter took extra benefits from his Turkish club. And by rule, he shouldn’t be eligible. What makes the Kanter story difficult is the previous rulings of the NCAA that cleared or just suspended players for similar actions. And on that fact, Kentucky fans have an honest gripe.
But, I think as this “Free Enes” movement became larger and larger, and the appeals came in droves, fans began to conveniently forget that Kanter did break rules. Whether or not the money was taken innocently or not, under the current NCAA rules, Kanter did not follow them. So while I do not begrudge a single UK fan for defending a player that would have been so important to the program, lets not also forget that if Kanter played for UL or UT, we would have focused on the rule breaking and wanted him ineligible.
4) DICK VITALE IS A KENTUCKY BUTT-KISSER TOO
-I saw a lot of comments recently about Dick Vitale resigning with ESPN through 2016, and that just means more Duke love for the worldwide leader. And I agree that Vitale is in love with that program. He thinks that’s “the way college basketball should be”, which I think has a race component to it, but that’s an argument for a different day. My argument is that as much as he loves Duke, he loves Kentucky nearly as much. In fact, there may not be another person in the media who has shown Kentucky more love over the years than Vitale. So, while it is certainly fun to be critical of Vitale and his Duke love, let’s also recognize the fact that we have the same lips on our rear too.