I will once again postpone part 2 of the power forward review as I do believe that the Vaughn commitment to FSU has thrown things off just a bit and changed the relative status of some of the recruits UK is pursuing. So look for that this weekend.
Instead, just a quick comment that relates to an email I recently received. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post that the “Tubby Smith Debate needed to end.” My argument was that the debate over Tubby’s credentials would do no positive, as Tubby would be here next year regardless, and does a lot of negative, specifically harming the program for recruiting purposes. The issue was debated in lots of places everywhere, thus likely proving that my thesis (that the debate should end) is unlikely to occur.
However during that debate, a reader emailed me and asked me flat out…..”do you think that anything could really change the minds of the Tubby supporters and critics before next season?” While thinking about this, I thought about one of my favorite paintings. In the late 1880s, James Ensor was fed up with the situation in his native country of Belgium and painted the above painting, “Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889.” While the title lacked some creativity, the painting is maybe one of my two or three favorites. Ensor hated the fact that at the time, politicians, artists and religious leaders were constantly at each other’s throats with arguments he found meaningless and that all parties involved cared more about themselves and their agenda than the betterment of the country. (a modern day version which I am much less fond of is here). Thus the painting (which showcased many of the famous faces of his day) showed the chaos of a street as Jesus returned and the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere that would surely accompany it. His point simply was, “hey if Jesus came down here today, you would care more about how great the event made you and your agenda than the fact that Christ had returned.”
While this is likely the first (and last) time Ensor will be mentioned on a college basketball blog (and certainly not the same day as Ricky Bobby), I thought about this painting, because it made me wonder if some in both camps of Kentucky fans have become so wedded to their stances on Tubby, that it clouds any other decision they might make. For instance when Julian Vaughn committed to FSU, I saw some posters write “exactly what I figured. I am glad this keeps happening….hopefully someone soon will wake up.” The sentiment contained in that post is simple. The author would rather see Kentucky lose a recruit than have him come, so that his ultimate agenda (getting rid of Coach Smith) can occur.
This is a crucial year for Tubby and the Kentucky program. While I dont agree with those who follow Oh Napier (“Its Final 4 or Hit the Door”), the negativity of last year simply cant happen again. What made folks upset last year is not only that Kentucky lost games, but the team was in disarray and it was clearly UNDERperforming. I expect this year to be much better, as this group is more conducive to playing for Smith than some past groups. But I wonder if that success happens, what people’s reactions will be. Will the Tubby supporters care less about the success than proving that their original opinions were correct? Will the Tubby critics make “excuses” claiming that this or that game was “lucky” and that the best players on the team (Crawford and Morris) “dont even want to be here anyway?” To put it another way, will anything actually change everyone’s minds or will they only care about how the results on the court support their preconceived opinions?
I have no idea the answers to these questions, but it is interesting to contemplate. Ultimately the vast majority of UK fans want Kentucky to win. But are there some that would rather have losses than be shown incorrect? My guess is yes….