Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weep No More My Lady

Don't cry Lindsay Lohnan. Kentucky will be back!

The hopes and dreams of Big Blue Nation were crushed last night by a one point heartbreaking loss to UConn in the Final Four. 56-55 was the final count. The Cats played hard, gave everything they had and came up one point short.

I've watched a few interviews after the game and I don't have the heart to post them. Every player was crushed. Absoulutely crushed. I felt the most sorry for Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones (besides Josh Harrellson of course). The two freshmen had to continue to answer questions about whether or not they are coming back next year. Jones looked hurt and mumbled a few words about not thinking about it right now. Knight actually got a little angry and shut down the line of questioning, telling the reporters that he isn't thinking about any "NBA stuff" now. He was focused on his teammates and what had transpired on the court.

I was definitely sad after the game. I had started watching the game at a local restaurant with some friends but decided to move to another venue because of one obnoxious UK fan that kept yelling and spouting out meaningless cheers and stats. She started the "C-A-T-S" cheer but never made it past the "C" and the "A". She was being goaded by "UConn" fans in the bar. And when I say "UConn" fans, that is code for UofL fans that were cheering against the Cats and for Kemba Walker, despite the fact that their own garbage team had exited the tournament weeks ago. I think you all know how I feel about the Dirty Bird Nation, so I will just leave it at that.

I watched the end of the game at a friends house. Afterwards we both looked at each other and made some comments about how many months it was until November, and that we had months of baseball and NASCAR to endure before football season started. We then started talking about how awesome of a season this truly was. And then my mood started to pick up.

I realized that after all of the adversity this team had been through; the loss of Enes Kanter, a short bench, close losses on the road against inferior teams, a questionable #4 seed despite a SEC championship, and then, despite all of that, a trip to the Final Four and a chance at a title. All of the positive memories of this team flooded my mind. I'd like to brighten your day with them:

  • The transformation from bench guy to legit starting center by Josh Harrellson, aka Jorts, aka the Sullinger Slayer. He endeared himself to UK fans and we loved him for his hard work and dedication.

  • The evolution of Brandon Knight from a shooter first to a point guard that looks to run the team before scoring. Knight looked lost in Maui at times. He gradually turned into a floor general and a stone cold assassin by the seasons end.

  • Terrence Jones also made a major change. He went from "Selfish Motherfu**er" to a player that focused more on rebounding, passing, blocking and defending besides his own scoring.

  • The emergence of Darius Miller is on the same level as what happened to Jorts in my opinion. Many will remember Miller passing up a three to win the game against Ole Miss. That has been overshadowed by Miller as a player with confidence who is no longer afraid to take the shot. Darius ended up being the MVP of the SEC tournament.

  • DeAndre Liggins became clutch and I don't know when that happened. Liggins smothered opponents on the defensive end and near the end of the season he was nailing shots at the end of games to put the Cats in position to win. He almost did it again by taking a deep three down by two last night and he was inches away from wining the game. INCHES.

I'm not sure what this team will look like next year. I am 100% sure that Liggins and Miller will be back as seniors and with a vengeance. They tasted the promised land and will be ready to go back. I'm 70% sure Lamb will return. He has stated he is coming back but things happen and the NBA draft is a sultry, seductive siren (that's called alliteration, kids). I will be comfortable when the deadline for draft declaration passes.

I have no idea what Knight and Jones are going to do. I am less sure about their thoughts as I was about the 5 guys from last year's team that left early. It seems to me that these two players truly love playing for Kentucky and that they know what they can do next year if they come back with more pieces to the puzzle.

I'm not going to think about that for a while. I'm going to enjoy the memories of this wonderful team and let the cards fall where they may. John Calipari has been at the helm for just two seasons but he has brought the Cats from the NIT to an Elite Eight and a Final Four. He has made the Commonwealth's team a contender again and we are all excited about the future.

Weep no more my lady. The Cats will be back and they are going to win it all. Soon. Very soon.

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