I don’t know about you, but I’m done wallowing in the misery of the past week. Forget April, February has been the cruelest month for Cat fans. First we lose Nerlens Noel for the season two days before Valentine’s Day, then get absolutely embarrassed by one of our rivals on Saturday. No, not Florida…Tennessee. Lowly Tennessee that going into the game Saturday, was ranked 10th in the SEC. More disheartening than the 30-point margin was the lack of effort by almost everyone on the roster, save Julius Mays and Jarrod Polson. (The fact that those two were the “heroes” of the game speak volumes about the surreal state of this season). Without Nerlens, the Cats were unmoored, adrift in a sea of uncertainty on a path to postseason irrelevance. It was so upsetting that John Calipari let his emotions fly during the press conference, calling some of his players “not real coachable,” a sentiment he had to retract on Sunday.
So much for not wallowing, right? This is like a hangover you can’t sleep off.
Let’s try this again. In the wake of one of the worst weeks to be a Kentucky fan, let’s take a look at five things to look forward over the next month or so.
1. College GameDay
We just went over this below, but ESPN College GameDay is coming to town on Saturday and once again, the eyes of college basketball will be upon us. And if you thought they were watching when we were on top, they’re definitely going to be watching now that we’re down. Nothing makes college basketball fans happier than seeing one of its giants struggle. After three years of whomping the competition with Calipari at the helm, the Cats have reclaimed their villain status. Now, with things not quite as rosy, only 13,000 tickets have been distributed to the GameDay taping, which drew 22,000 back in 2010. Don’t think that Digger Phelps won’t pounce on that. Speaking of, if you need a reason to come to the event, what better one than that? This will be the fans’ chance to respond to Digger’s scolding at Vanderbilt’s GameDay taping last season.
LIS-TEN TO ME **clap clap clapclapclap** LIS-TEN TO ME **clap clap clapclapclap** LIS-TEN TO ME **clap clap clapclapclap**
2. UK Hoops
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start watching the women’s team. After a few setbacks, the ladies are cruising once again, riding a three-game winning streak that started with an overtime thriller over Arkansas. They’re ranked in the top ten and look primed to follow up on last season’s Elite Eight finish. Ultimately, the way things are going, we may be watching them longer than we will be the guys. Enjoy watching their fun and exciting brand of basketball, starting tonight against Texas A&M at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
3. SEC Tournament
Even if all the bracket projections in the world predict the Cats won’t make the dance, there is one last way for them to get in: the SEC Tournament. The five-day
party event starts March 13th on Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee. Could this be the year they have to win it all to get in? No? Well, what better place to drown your sorrows (aka Nashville’s #1 industry)? Don’t let a down season stop you from partying with your fellow Cats fans.
4. Spring football / Spring game
In one month, the football Cats will strap on the pads for the first time in the Mark Stoops era. After an exhilarating National Signing Day, Stoops and staff will finally be able to work with the team’s current players, as well as Za’Darius Smith, Steven Borden, and QB Reese Phillips, who enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Stoops has said it is an open battle for the starting QB spot, despite some saying Maxwell Smith already has an early lead With more enthusiasm in the fan base than ever and the culminating Spring Game taking place under the lights, you can always find solace in football. #ThingsINeverThoughtIdSay
5. Next year
When all else fails, turn your sights to next season. With five McDonald’s All-Americans already signed to next year’s freshmen class, Cal still has a chance to add a few more, with three remaining targets left on the list. Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon will make their decisions over the next few months, and even if we miss on all three, we’ll be the one blowing teams out by thirty points, not the other way around. Does this season have you a bit burned out on the Calipari Way? Last year, we learned how valuable a few “veterans” can be, and this squad will return more than one. Also, two of next year’s heralded freshmen have spent their whole lives playing together. How’s that for a leg up on team chemistry?
Plus, there’s always Keeneland?