As C.J. Watson’s 3 point attempt narrowly esacped the net as the final horn sounded, a previously alien feeling pervaded the Bluegrass: assurance.
The common theme this season for Kentucky fans has been, among many others, uncertainty. It began with fax-gate and Morris’s eligibility. Then came the blowout losses to bitter rivals, locker room turmoil, a near mutiny of the coaching staff, and players tustling with scaffolding. Even when the Cats appeared to be turning the corner with a win, the next week saw them fall back to square one with an uninspired loss. Kentucky has been a floating bubble over a bed of nails most of the season, and have been written off by experts and non-experts (Digger, Seth Davis) alike. Then finally last night– amidst the checkerboard of vacationing basketball fans in Knoxville– in that airplane hanger of an arena– with the NCAA tourney on the line– Kentucky finally gave us something tangible; their bubble evaporated and a chance at the post season all but cemented. While our seeding figures to be higher than Ricky Williams at a Phish concert, Big Blue nation can finally rest comfortably as we lace up our dancin’ shoes. As Dave Baker might have said following the game, “LeeAnne Womack must’ve been in a Kentucky uniform tonight, because the Cats had the choice to sit it out or dance…” You can fill in the rest.
Neyseyers will say, “ok you won, but it’s not like UK will get to the final four.” Yes, neyseyer, you may be right, but doggonit, we’ll have a shot. And with a season full of so much anger, heartache, bewilderment, and disapointment, that’s all we want; a chance to dance. For as long as there’s a shot to be had, Patrick Sparks and Co. will make it–that, you can be assured of.