In February, this basketball off-season was going to be quite easy. The team was headed towards a very dissapointing season, the recruiting class coming in was less hearalded than those before it (if a #2 class can be that), and Willie Cauley-Stein was likely gone and maybe the Harrison twins as well. The expectations would be down, the incoming guys were probably going to be given time to adapt, and the general hype would be eliminated. But since the beginning of March, everything has fallen into place perfectly for UK. The amazing NCAA Tournament run, the injury to WCS likely being key to his return, the Harrisons and everybody else returning. It has likely made this team a preseason #1 and the one with the most returning experience in the Calipari era. But it also brings HYPE back into the picture once again.
Let’s not forget how bad the hype of last year’s team burned us for 4 months, both internally and by opposing fanbases. It was miserable to be a fan at times last season. And much of that was brought on by ourselves. There was only a small minority of fans calling for 40-0 last year, but the large majority of fans stayed silent when those expectations were thrown out. So that is why is offseason we need to police ourselves. There will be the vocal minority torching the call-in shows and message boards once again because they have short memories. It is inevitable. So I am calling on fans to not let these 3 statements go with rebuking our own fans. Because at the end of the day, those that make fools of themselves will make fools of all of us:
-Let’s get this out of the way first. Do not, under any circumstances, allow the 40-0 talk to start up again. Not by one single fan. And I don’t even think it’s absurd because last year’s team lost 11 games. I say we can’t allow that kind of talk because of these reasons: 1978 Kentucky, 1991 UNLV, 1992 Duke, 1996 Kentucky, 1999 Duke, 2004 St. Joseph’s, 2005 North Carolina, 2012 Kentucky, and basically any other year. There have been countless teams since 1976 that are likely going to be better than next year’s Kentucky team. And none of them went undefeated. And very few of them only lost 1 game. The last ONE LOSS national champion was 1971. Every national champion has lost at least 2 games since then and 31 of the 38 since 1976 have lost 3 or more. Even the best lose games so it’s pointless to even go there.
2. “Our 9 McDonald’s All-Americans prove we are better than you”
-That is a true statement, if all 9 guys play like All-Americans. Being a high school All-American doesn’t mean you are immediately a college all-american, of even close. Do we think Marcus Lee played like an All-American this year? The point is claiming McDonald’s All-Americans equate to national championships is another pointless stat. If that were the case, Kentucky would have won the last 5 national championships. There are so many other reasons to argue this team is going to be really good, so don’t use the weakest of arguments.
3. “Our Second Five Could Beat Most Teams”
-Another dumb thing to say. Why? Well, most of our 2nd five will be freshman and I already proved that we have NO IDEA how good those freshman will be. And secondly, our FIRST FIVE lost 11 games last year. And we lost our top 2 scorers. With that said, I have little doubt that our 2nd five is better than anybody’s elses 2nd five. If you say that our bench is the best in the country, that is not a hyperbolic statement at all. But don’t blow it so far out of proportion it makes you sound silly.
Look, next year has the potential to be really, really fun. As did this year. But until you see how these 10-12 guys mesh together, there is no way to know. ON PAPER, this is probably the most talented team in the country. That talent doesn’t guarantee anything though. It doesn’t guarantee an undefeated season, it doesn’t guarantee all of our All-Americans will be great, and it doesn’t mean we can just throw any 5 out there and win. It simply means we have an advantage in talent. It’s a great advantage to have but don’t allow the minority to ruin this offseason of excitement. Don’t let it go to the extremes. Take the responsibility and self-police ourselves for the next few months.