With each loss throwing a new log on the fire that rages under Tubby Smith’s chair, Kentucky basketball fans are steadily becomming a microcosm of the grander— the people vs. the Bush Administration— breach in society. The detractors are methodically relentless, often redundant, and will stop at nothing until changes are made. Almost like the Ted Kennedy’s and and Robert Byrd’s in Washington (theoretically, not literally…relax). Then there are the moderates; the ones who appreciate Tubby’s “curc-ture” and his staggering winning percentage. Yet, even they are becoming increasingly anxious with each passing display of stupidity: turnovers, shot-selection, Adam Williams, selling your ports to the Middle East, etc. Finally, increasingly becoming harder to find, are the staunch Orlando supporters; the Mitchy McConnell’s and Trent Lott’s (would Jack Abramov translate into a booster?) They liked Tubby from day 1, especially his half-court offense, and they refuse to waiver. For them, any coach with such esteemed morale and “curc-ture” is a welcome presence to the position (espcially after the last pres…I mean coach).
Where do I stand? Well, since this is bias-free journalism, I must remain objective (I take after Doyel). However, I will say that it’s a little bit of all three, though I’m slowly starting to slip into NPR-land (this website).
As Kentucky basketball fans, we are simply virgin to losing. Sure, we had a one night stand a couple of years in a row in the late 80’s, but c’mon, who wasn’t living it up back then? 15 or so years later, when the feeling returns, we stuggle to cope (think of it as having that one night stand call you up out of the blue to tell you that you have a 15 year old son). Getting blown out one national tv appearence after another; having your name drug through the dirt by a pencil-necked analyst who might have seen some high school JV action (Don’t want to call out by name…Seth Davis); mercifully watching as Sheray Thomas and Woo do their best Marvin Stone impressions. It becomes obvious that Tubby is light-years behind in both innovation and recruiting compared to the maestros on Tobacco Road (and maybe even North Broadway for that matter).
However, if one is to truly mold an educated opinion, they must first look at every angle. Tubby might not take us to the Final 4 every other year, but he also doesn’t: cheat (Q. Snyder), cry (M. Davis), wreck his car into a tree with Jack Daniels in one hand and Vicatin in the other (Sutton), sell-out his program for a credit card commercial…and cry (Coach K), strangle (Knight), have a weave (Pitino), cry some more after losses (Roy). I believe there are a number of better coaches out there; certainly a vast amount with a brand of ball that doesn’t put even Michael Irvin to sleep, not to mention with more recruiting gusto. Nevertheless, here we are: stuck with the man who’s won nearly 80% of the time since he’s been here. The man who lead us to a National Title (the not his players thing was old in ’99), and two back to back overall #1 seeds…and he’s kept it clean. How could it get any worse? Well, if Kerry had won…
Footnote: In case you were wondering where Dave Baker fits into all of this, he’s Geraldo Rivera.