I can't wait to start reading it. "Gillispie this, Gillispie that". "I as a fan have the right to criticize" (which you certainly do, by the way, just remember to criticize yourself a little as well). I grew up under the understanding that Rupp Arena was the most feared place to play in college hoops and this was simply not debatable. All you have to do is look at Pitino's home winning percentage and to a certain extent, Tubby's. But as the Tubby era progressed, Rupp seemed to die down a bit, becoming at times more like a Wimbledon match with people only cheering after a basket or a good play. ( I am sure Forty can and will supply statistics that would show the winning percentages between the coaches weren't that different). So, I am by no means blaming this on Tubby, I am, however, blaming this directly on the fans themselves.
Fast forward to now and Rupp still is a very frightening place to play, only now it applies to our own team. 6 of our 11 losses were at home this year in very closely contested games (definition: game determined by 10 pts or less), games that had a a DUKE like crowd been present, maybe we could have motivated them into the W column. Jodie Meeks stats were simply much better on the road (See for yourself here). His only "major" scoring games at home this year were against VMI, ApState and TSU. Several announcers spoke of the pressures on the Cats to perform at home in front of such "demanding" fans. We all remember the boos at a certain half-time. We all also know the relatively low hum that seemed to float through the venue whenever the boys were down and probably needed help the most. I would argue that there has been a wholesale sea change of attitude in UK basketball fandom over the last decade and it effects our team as much as any other factor you want to attribute to the demise of this season.
It only takes one viewing of a Duke game to understand why the torch has been passed to Cameron Indoor as most frightning arena in College Hoops. Young, enthusiastic students cheering like crazy for their team are right on top of the court. It overflows with positive vibes. Conversely, it only takes one viewing of a UK game to notice that the students are hard to find (I know,I was one of them, sadly a decade ago now!) most of us were up in the second level while the dominant color around the court is a grey (and getting greyer) and a sort of fleshy scalp color.
Where am I going with this? First, it should be understood that this team belongs to the current students of the University of Kentucky more than it belongs to any of the rest of us. They ALL need to be seated up front (not just in certain sections). It doesn't look like a healthy fan base when the avg. age of court side fans are in their 50's (no stats, just guestimating). Second, I firmly believe the sense of entitlement (of an older UK fan who has lived through the good times) when piled on with age leads to a negativity when things head south. This in turn leads to a very negative experience for the students, who are already sitting behind and above said angry fan. An 18 year old freshman at UK was between eight and nine years old the last time UK won a national championship. He or she has no direct sense of entitlement, at most only an inherited one. They just want to cheer for their school with all of their hearts. They are the ones that make College Hoops fun, not you, grumpy, aging UK fan who may or may not have any direct affiliation with the University other than your season ticket purchase.
Basically what I am saying is that you in the front row, complaining about your team and coach, pining for the past, booing at halftimes, remember there is a student somewhere above you who is watching. They would not only would love to be in your seat cheering for THEIR school and the players THEY have classes with, but they are also watching YOU and your reactions. They have no prior knowledge of UK basketball tradition other than their current experiences. YOU are the torchbearer. What kind of tradition are you passing on?
There is plenty of blame to be passed around this year, but let's not forget to blame ourselves a little as well.