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2013-2014: The Season You Least Expected

© Robert Deutsch | Getty

© Robert Deutsch | Getty

© Robert Deutsch | Getty

Kentucky basketball may not have experienced a season with higher highs and lower lows than 2013-2014. Sky-high expectations crumbled into regular season struggles, and it was only after most had written them off that the team rose from the ashes all the way to the National Championship game. Now, with four players returning, and only two to go pro so far, Calipari won’t have to start from scratch next season. U mad, college basketball?

In fact, looking back, everything that happened this season was kind of the opposite of what we expected, and by the end, Kentucky’s story became its critics’ worst nightmare. Follow my line of thinking…

Preseason: “The best assembly of talent to ever take the court. There’s no way they’ll lose a game!”

Reality: Kentucky was 22-9 in the regular season, a far cry from the 40-0 daydreams. After the loss at South Carolina, the vultures circled Calipari, gleefully unleashing all their pent-up hate and writing his coaching obituary. I’m pretty sure that’s the polar opposite of what we thought would happen. (Don’t worry, it gets better.)

Postseason: “They’re just an eight-seed. There’s no way they’ll make it past Wichita State.”

Reality: Whether or not you believe in the tweak, Kentucky was a totally different team in the postseason. Once Andrew started passing, the Cats started rolling, losing by only one point to #1 Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship, at that point an improbable run all its own. Still, it wasn’t enough to impress the Selection Committee, who shafted the Cats with an 8-seed. Almost everyone picked Wichita State to oust Kentucky in the second round (high five, LL Cool J!). For the first time I can ever remember, the Cats were underdogs, and by the Final Four, their story was so sweet that even the coldest of UK-hating hearts couldn’t help but give Aaron Harrison props when he hit his third game-winning three in four games. It was a run so improbable that the vultures had to eat crow.

Offseason: “Whatever, they’re all going pro. More proof that UK’s just a one-and-done NBA factory.” 

Reality: I’m still not over the loss. I have all of the tournament games TiVo’d, but haven’t been able to bring myself to watch them yet. Still too raw, still too painful. But, as the draft decisions come in, I can’t help but see the silver lining. Had Kentucky beaten UConn, you have to think that some of the players who decided to come back would have gone pro instead. Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson both cited winning a title as a primary reason they’re coming back, and had UK won in Dallas, their stock would have been sky high, the void full, and the allure of returning to school probably not as bright. Although their decisions are still pending, I think the same could be said for the Harrison Twins. If they are looking for a reason to make the jump, that probably would have been it.

Yet, what happened happened, and as a result, two freshmen are coming back (hopefully four), along with two sophomores, which means we may finally be able to take the quotation marks off “veterans” when we talk about next year’s team. If the Harrison Twins decide to come back (if, if, if), it’ll be the first time ever at Kentucky that Cal will have a returning point guard. Regardless, this team will not only have experience, it will be fed by the burning, churning drive to get number nine.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

14 Comments for 2013-2014: The Season You Least Expected

  1. HeathT
    8:07 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

    Love watching the four game run. I deleted the UConn game. Too much dwelling would end the good feelings of a GREAT run.

    • GoCats2
      8:12 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

      exactly, I have watched the 1st 5 games of the tourney twice since it ended, no need to watch the last one. Of course i wanted #9 but those 5 games make for some great basketball viewing all summer.

  2. Jud
    8:22 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

    Mrs. T, will you please stop with these filler articles and just tell us if the Twins are coming back.

    • TDog
      8:41 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

      Lol no one knows anything about the twins so calm down.

  3. Tony James
    8:59 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

    I believe that the loss to UCONN in this years natonal championship will be the most important loss in the history of our men’s basketball program. Just as Mrs. Tyler Robinson indicated, our players that decided to come back would have turned pro had we won the championship. I never thought that I would be okay with the loss. I’m still upset and remember crying as Derek Anderson shot those free throws in our loss to Arizona in the 96-97 championship. In hindsight the loss might actually be better for the program in the longterm than if we won. That sounds crazy at face value to me and every other member of the BBN, even with the returnees. No offense to WCS, Alex, and Dakari but I would take the title over any one or all of them returning. Them returning is going to have a domino effect in recruiting because if I was a gambling man which I am I would wager a good bet that the one and done rule will turn into the two and through rule by the end of this calendar year. If the Harrisons’ come back, which at this point they are, we will win the title next year. By that time the two and through could be in place and the class we have next year will be back for 2015-16. Which will make that years class the most important of the Calipari era. Cal will be all over the recruiting trail as he always is but this class will be so important and he knows it. We are in good position with the number 1 player at each position for 15-16 class. We’ve already signed Charles Matthews who is a good player now but will be much better by the time he get’s here. The highest rated player at the two, ahead of Matthews is Malik Newman. He’s only 6’3″ right now. I saw him for the first time a little over a year ago and I was blown away by the fact that I was watching a freshman in high school. Imagine James Young’s dunk and feeling like it could happen any second. That is Malik Newman, but he can also drain three’s and handle the rock. We will also make a push for Stephen Zimmerman, a center from Las Vegas. Also at that position we have offered Skal Labissiere from Memphis.Look out for Carlton Bragg, Montaque Gill-Caesar, and Ivan Rabb. If Cal has his way with that class and the two and through rule is in not only will he last longer at Kentucky but we could realistically be in the midst of a John Wooden type of run. If these things happen as I think that they will, we will not only surpass UCLA but we could run the championship tally up to I don’t even want to say it……..14-16. Wait,what? It could happen.

    • Derek Anderson didn’t play in the 97 NC game. Remember he had blown out his knee earlier in the year. He had been cleared to play but Rickie didn’t want to risk another injury (it was his 2nd blown knee).

      I believe you’re thinking of Nazr Muhammed (sp?). I think he was 0-10 from the line that game. In fact, when he had the fight rolling on the floor with Lebron, I posted a comment saying that if he could shoot free throws half as well as he can brawl, we would be playing for #10 this year. 🙂

    • GO CATS
      9:37 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

      Anderson hit 2 technical free throws against Minnesota in Final Four game. Pitino picked him off the bench.

    • Bunny
      10:46 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

      It’s Mrs. Tyler Thompson – NOT Mrs. Tyler Robinson…

    • Derek Anderson
      11:44 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

      Hey, I hit two free throws against Arizona in the championship game.

    • GO CATS
      8:02 am April 25, 2014 Permalink

  4. Guinness Book of World Wreckards
    9:01 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

    Double T, so glad you relieved Drew…after 15 consecutive posts (BTI…is this a KSR record?) he was either getting tired or thirsty. Nice work everyone…keep the news flowing. Just saw Mitch Kupchek in the Malones wine room…c’mon Cal…ditch Mitch and tell him to go back to Cali!

  5. Still not over the loss huh, MTT? Well, me either! I’m still not over 75 or 97 either, nor other years when we had the talent to win it all but came up short. As I’ve posted several times, we could EASILY be right there with or even past UCLA, but it shows just how hard winning a NC is.

  6. Bunny
    10:49 pm April 24, 2014 Permalink

    Nice post Mrs TT!

  7. UKBlue1!
    9:16 am April 25, 2014 Permalink

    Ms. T, I have all tourney games TiVo’d. W St, UL meltdown, Mich and Wisconsin games all are worth watching. Especially the last 7 minutes of Uof L game. There have only been 16 teams in UK history go to the final 4.