First of all congrats to Tennessee for beating an excellent Kansas team that just doesn't seem to have the "chemistry", I believe, is the word they used on ESPN that is needed to withstand a good opponent on their own floor. Supposedly Seth Daviscalled this game long before when all of the unbeatens were being called into question on CBS a couple weeks back. Of course that was before the incident which cost UT the services of 4 of their "better" players. I watched the game Sunday with my father and my uncle as they both laughed at me incessantly. Why were they laughing at me?? Well, because I have become the poster child for internet news, analysis, stats, and insight from the insiders at all of the expert sites who can tell us what is going to happen and when. Or at least what should.
When the game started I told them I had been in contact with some of the UT folks this week on the net, and they were 100% behind their team, but not enthusiastic about the idea of turning back the rock, chalk, Jayhawk wave of offense and their defensive prowess which had been widely advertised. I told them I had looked at all of the expert sites and analyzed the data and that there was no way that UT should be able to hang with Kansas and their deep team of players when UT could barely fill a bench. Besides, Bruce Pearl is not going to outmaneuver Bill Self when he is out-manned, outgunned, and out-talented like he is. Those comments brought the first really good laughs from my father as he pointed out to me "that is why they play the games". Now I know anyone can beat anyone on any given afternoon, but the numbers just screamed "NO WAY" at me. Now, as we all know, I looked like the world's 2nd biggest fool for not seeing what was going to beat Kansas, and it is nowhere in any of the numbers, analysis, or stats.
It was the heart of that team. Call it chemistry, bonding, attitude, will to win, or whatever you like, but Kansas didnt have it on this day. They not only should have had it, they should have come into Knoxville and handed UT the most heartbreaking defeat since Jodie Meekswent down there and shot everything out of the building but the windows. We talk about having "IT" here at UK, and now we have seen what it is going to take to win it all this year, or any other. Our Cats have shown this "will to win" in a lot of games this year, and that does not mean they will get through unscathed either. And one loss is not going to stop the Kansas juggernaut. Bill Self will go back to Kansas, practice, reload, refit, and get ready for the next game like the last one didn't exist. Coach Calipari has stressed this kind of a mindset with the Cats this year, and I believe that this is what has gotten us this far. Some experts feel like we will be the next to fall from the lofty heights of the unbeatens this year, and that may be so. But the experts don't know any more than the average fan out there that watches each game intently like their life depended on it. And that's because the experts and their ratings and rankings dont calculate that intangible "IT" factor. They cant. And that is why on a cold Sunday afternoon in January of 2010 I looked like a complete fool.....and I deserved to be laughed at, because I forgot about "IT".
My ego made me enter in to a silly bet with Forty Year Cat Fan back before the season started about the Cats winning it all. Then the more and more I watched and saw what they were capable of, the more and more I believed, and still do, that the Cats have "IT". Those T-shirts we had made back earlier in the year are becoming more and more prophetic as the season wears on. The numbers dont mean a thing except that someone spent a lot of time adding them up when it comes down to the teams walking out on the court. You have to have "IT", and Kansas didn't. What makes me really nervous from here on out is that Tennessee did. Emotion may have helped, but most of that game was guts. That means it is going to be our guts against theirs come time to travel to Knoxville.