Yes, I know the title is a classic “That’s what she said”. There, I beat you to it.
It’s been just about long enough. Twelve years is too long for normal fanbases and it’s about eleven years too long for the rabid BBN. It’s been a long drought for a program and fanbase that has been spoiled with success and has grown used to winning. Yes, it will make us more grateful for prosperity and keep us from becoming jaded to our blessed fate as Kentucky fans, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been depressing.
For the past decade, Kentucky fans have been waiting for this weekend. Though we are one of the most blessed fanbases in America, with seven titles and final fours in most decades, we’ve also just come out of a decade of disappointment. Sure there have been bright spots: amazing individual performances, expectation-exceeding teams, and awesome comebacks. And we all know there have also been the dark spots: alcohol-loving coaches and disappointing results. But overall two things have been missing these past ten plus years: a final four and a championship.
It’s been close to twelve years since we’ve seen the Cats play in April. Sure November through February have been fun, but I think it’s about time we got back to our rightful place in the last weekend of the season. No, there is no entitlement in that statement. It’s a fact. Kentucky basketball has been the standard bearer for many decades and its time again for it to realize its potential.
I love that we’re back on top in the SEC. I love that we’re once again the champions within the state. I love that we dominated some of the powerhouses of college basketball in our non-conference season. As Coach Cal and the boys are well aware, this season has been special and the fans love this team in a way that hasn’t really been felt since the last championship squad. But they also know that these next two weekends are the ones that matter.
We can all say the same things in public-that this recruiting class will go down in history no matter the ultimate results, that we’re happy just knowing that we’re feared again, that no matter what happens this team has brought the swagger back to Kentucky. All those things are very true. But let’s call a spade a spade: we will all be disappointed if we don’t win this weekend and make it to Indy for the next. That as much as we love Boogie and are grateful to have Wall for one year, this team isn’t anything without the hardware. I’ve loved a lot of the players of the past decade, but none as much as the championship teams. There is nothing like glory to make everyone easier to love.
And no, I don’t worry that there’s too much pressure on this team. Remember that the fans came into this season with lofty expectations and this years’ team has met them at every turn. They were expectations that the media and other fan bases told us to lower; that this team was young and we shouldn’t expect so much of them. And with every Bledsoe dunk and every Boogie “and one”, these Cats have embraced the pressure and have not only embraced the hype but have lived up to it.
I hope we slaughter every team by thirty points, especially Duke. I hope John Wall has four other-wordly games and shows everyone why he is better than Evan Turner. I hope Boogie proves to everyone his maturity and his domination in the paint. I hope that the Patterson family gets the red carpet treatment in Indianapolis and that PPat gets to see that all the bull crap he endured these past 3 years was ultimately worth it. But mostly I just want to win. It’s been long enough.