Vanderbilt. Every conference has one: Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Baylor. Privatized, well endowed, haughty academic standards, machine-like Asians; simply put, Vandy is the pocket-protecting Poindexter of the SEC, the Tri Lambs in a world of State U’s where athletics are the public’s measuring stick of success. Vanderbilt. Kentucky’s daddy.
Indeed, the school that 19th century industrialization built and prominent academic repute sustained is enjoying an unprecedented reign over a school that many believe was founded on the hardwood…and it’s really pissing me off. On Sunday, in the curious but enchanting confines of Memorial Gym, the ‘Dores will be gunning for their fourth straight victory over Kentucky, something that if you actually take the time to ponder it, will make you want to kick a baby. A smart, gifted baby.
I’ve never hated Vandy, mainly because they’ve never really been a huge threat. I’ve always respected their (over)achievements and I absolutely love watching Kevin Stallings’s brand of ball. This piece isn’t fueled by hate, not at all, it’s fueled by desperation.
Vanderbilt is good, and has traditionally fielded a pretty competitive squad. Still, nary is there ever a reasonable excuse to drop 4 in a row to them. Not when you’re Kentucky. I think of it like this: Kentucky is a 300 pound ex-steel mill worker turned hotdog eating champion. They’ve worked their whole lives at stuffing their face with anything in sight, always wanting more. Hell, Kentucky would even take the time to put mustard and relish on their dogs, wash them down with a Bud heavy, and still win the thing going away. That’s when some little pencil-neck named Kobiashi comes in, 170 lbs. dripping wet. Your chins ripple as you chuckle to yourself. Then, aided by unyielding meditation and mental preparation, that same pencil-neck proceeds to eat 54 hotdogs before you’re on number 16. Where you were once able to dominate with absolute gluttony and overall fatness, someone found a way to out eat you with mental fortitude. Now, you’re just another fat guy living off severance checks sweating sweet and sour pork.
This is not to say Vandy has been winning because they have smarter players, I’m just trying to personify how annoying it is when the school hardly lauded for athletics beats you at what you used to do best. Or something like that.
Normally, this would not be considered a bad loss. After all, it’s not like Vandy is overachieving this year, they have some legitimate horses. Ask Florida and the handful of other ranked teams who’ve succumbed to the ‘Dores this season. Even without the talent, you simply can never count on a win in Nashville, where the fabled ‘Memorial magic’ has concoted its fair share of upsets. Hopefully, there’s one more upset on the horizon. Maybe, just maybe, Kentucky can summons the ghosts of Nazr “oops, there’s only .8 seconds left I’d better fling it” Mohammed, or the 2003 team whose reign of domination was sparked in this very gym, or even the ghost of Jay Gould. Something. Anything. Please, for the love of all things sacred and pure, just freakin’ win.