Woe to the conquered

Titus Livius gives us today's title, and it could hardly be more appropriate.  Woe, anguish, abject misery - I have seen all in the faces and lamentations of UK fans after our beloved Wildcats found another new and novel way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We have all been here before - at least five times this season we have allowed games to somehow slip away after a valiant comeback.  In fact, the valiant comebacks of this team will never be remembered in Kentucky lore - only the final score and the season record, at which we will blanch and make obscene gestures.

Woe is us.  Us is woe.  Having already asked where we are to go when we find ourselves past the point of frustration, I now find myself in a strangely surreal state - wondering what new lightning bolt this team and the circumstances surrounding it can draw down from on high.  I am now watching this team with the same kind of morbid fascination as might drive one to watch a snuff film - you know how it will end, and you know it will be horrible, but you just can't avert your eyes.

Years from now, intrepid UK historians will remember this season as perhaps the most exquisitely painful in memory, not so much because the team has played poorly, but because it has found so little of the steely nerves and clutch execution that Kentucky fans have become used to over the last 20 years.  The lack of it have driven UK fans to paroxysms of rage and frustration against the players, the coach, Ashley Judd (well, mercifully not her yet).  Even I, the endless scold of such vituperative behavior, can no longer find it in me to criticize the critics, at least for the nonce.

So I find myself, as many fans do, in a purgatory built by my own expectations, and delineated by bonehead plays, strange coaching decisions, stranger attempts by players to go one on five, and confusing inbounds "plays".  How does a player forget that he has four other teammates with whom he might occasionally share the ball?  Why is Smith motioning Thomas off the line when a free throw is in progress - and why does Thomas acquiesce?  Why does Ramel Bradley seem to prefer to throw the ball to the opposition rather than his own teammates - perhaps because it is easier?  Wouldn't it make sense to commit a backcourt foul and force a free throw  than to let the player run down and score?

Alas, all these questions will remain forever academic, as they probably should.  To abuse Shakespeare for my own purposes, "the evil that teams do lives after them.  The good is oft interred with their season."

So let it be with Kentucky.  I feel filthy, but I can hardly wait for the next snuff film UK game to begin ...

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