We held out hope against hope that this wouldnt happen…..but deep down I think we all knew it would. Kansas, who in my view is the best team in America and will win the national championship, completely outclassed Kentucky in the second half, and the Wildcats’ tumultuous season came to an end in Chicago. For one half, the Cats performed admirably, keeping the game at the tempo they wanted, controlling the possessions and working the ball around to get relatively good shots. But in the second half, Kansas’ tremendous athleticism and unbelievable team speed simply overwhelmed the Cats and led to the ultimate blowout outcome.
Kansas did everything better than UK, making their open three point looks, running their breaks with precision and contesting virtually every Kentucky shot on defense. Watching the second half, you could see exactly what Kentucky must work on in the offseason and what must change from a personnel standpoint. The Cats still play with a low basketball IQ far too much, taking ill-advised shots, penetrating in unwinnable situations and making questionable decisions in key situations. But ultimately the Cats play with one hand behind their backs far too often as their lack of athleticism is simply too much to overcome. Kansas had the superior athlete at four of five positions and up and down the bench. Some of this may be overcome with the potential additions of Jai Lucas and Patrick PAtterson……but it has not been enough for this season.
We do have to give one final shout to three seniors who played with heart in their last games at UK. Bobby Perry continued his March offensive explosions, playing an outstanding game on both ends of the floor in his last appearance in a Kentucky uniform. Sheray Thomas had another stellar game, doing the little things well and helping the team. And Woo….well he only goes down as one of my three favorite UK players of all time. All three of these young men have received tremendous criticism over the years and are often used as the face of Kentucky’s recruiting woes. Nevertheless, they have given their all and today was a good final run for them.
The next week will no doubt be difficult for this program. There will be much speculation as to the futures of Tubby Smith, Randolph Morris and the two big-name recruits looking at the Cats. My hope is that for the sake of the program, whatever happens, happens quickly. Mitch Barnhart needs to make Tubby’s status known within the next couple of days…..and Tubby needs to make any decision he may make just as quickly. Things need to change but a state of flux simply cant be allowed.
Either way, tough way to end the season. But Kansas is better…..they should have won, and they did. Now the real action begins.