I thought I would begin the run-up to Big Blue Madness with something a little different. I know that UK fans are chomping at the bit to get started with basketball season, and fortunately for the sanity of most of us, that time has almost come.
So in honor of that, and to get us properly in the mood, I thought I would run an excerpt each day this week from Wildcat Tip-off, the Kentucky basketball annual that I and a lot of other people in the Big Blue Blogosphere have worked hard to prepare for Wildcat fans.
Today's excerpt will be from "The Expectations Game" by Alan Rucker. As most frequent readers of this site know, Alan is the owner of Over the Pylon, a blog dedicated to covering the programs of his two alma maters, the University of Kentucky and Ball State University. Alan is an excellent writer, and one thing that UK fans will have a tough time doing this year is managing expectations.
So without further ado, we have an excerpt from "The Expectations Game" following the jump.
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For Calipari and these Wildcats, year one will be an adjustment period, as first years under new regimes often are. There will be losses, there will be doubt, there will be naysayers flooding the message boards, the call-in shows, and the blogs, all for the sake of the betterment of Kentucky. Good people who, despite their negative outlook, doomsday fears, and desperate predictions, do it all for the love of the Big Blue. It is the birthright passed down through generation after generation in small towns, hollers, and cities throughout the Commonwealth. Young and old in Virgie, Whitesburg, Bowling Green, Lexington, and Covington all have a common bond and shared sense of belonging to something far greater than themselves. This love, this passion, this sense of entitlement, belonging, and excellence is what defines Wildcat fans.
But that definition is what oftentimes tears us apart. Fans of the 2009 Wildcats should keep one word in their vocabulary for the coming season: perspective. Perspective will tell you that this is a team on the rise, but far from its final destination. Perspective will tell you that game one will be a much different experience than game 30. Perspective will tell you that this combination of new and seasoned players will have to find the ever-elusive chemistry, gel, or team identity to believe in one another. Perspective will tell you that expectations need to be tempered with a heavy dose of reality.
The simple reality is that Kentucky is a team that in recent memory has suffered more than its share of chaos, failure, and disarray. This is a team with off-season shuffling, players flirting with the NBA, a coaching regime change, and a handful of new recruits that are garnering more attention and notice than most multi-year veterans currently on the squad.Reality tells us that this is a team that has recorded losses at the hands of Gardner-Webb and VMI over the last two seasons, missed last year’s NCAA tournament, and lost a combined 27 games under Coach Gillispie. Almost any other school would measure a winning season, or perhaps making the tournament, as successful. But most Kentucky fans are expecting far more than that. It’s fool’s gold, at its most basic, and totally unfair to Calipari and the players on any other level.
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Wildcat Tip-off is available at Maple Street Press' website, and will be available at the following fine retailers around October 20th, in the Commonwealth of KY and in a lot of the Cincinnati area:
- Rite Aid
- Food Lion
- Food City
- Sam’s Club
- Of course, the University bookstore in Lexington