With over half of our regular season completed we currently stand at a record of 16-0, and only 15 games (including tonight's matchup against those incredibly pesky Gators) remain before we enter into the SEC Tournament.
So, what does 16-0 really mean? It's great for the fans as I suppose it's a reason for bragging rights, "hey, look at my school, we are undefeated!". It makes us feel exceedingly important and relevant, and after that last few years, relevancy is indeed sweet for us, in particular. But, what about for the players? I mean, is going undefeated a realistic and positively healthy goal? I know Coach Calipari dreams about going undefeated, but does he really expect that it is going to happen and does he set that as a pre-season goal for the team? I haven't heard anything to suggest that he does, so, I'm going on the assumption that he doesn't.
Every season you are constantly hearing from countless announcers and possibly even coaches that being undefeated isn't really a good thing at all, as it can only cause problems down the stretch and there are valuable lessons that can be learned from losses. As the wins accrue it makes it harder to concentrate if you are undefeated. You become so worried about not losing in order to maintain that undefeated status, the intense pressure becomes too much and you ultimately run the risk of losing focus of the real goal, which is undoubtedly to win a national championship. Or perhaps, our current crop of Wildcats' competitiveness, confidence in themselves and remarkable talent will get them through and they are simply immune to the pressure and problems that those accumulating wins can produce?
If you go undefeated during your season, but in the end fall short of the ultimate goal, does it render your entire season meaningless? Sure, there will be memories to make the season special, (as in reaching 2000 wins, etc.) but as a whole, what sticks in the minds of people one, two, or three years down the road? That you went undefeated for the better part of the year, or that you lost when it mattered most?
As far as fans, players, coaches and rival fans alike, in the end, it's highly likely that no one is going to remember that we lost to a Hartford, a Florida, or a Tennessee-type team during the regular season or conference tourney, but what they will remember is that we fell short of the grand prize. I think I would be willing to take a couple of hard-to-swallow lumps before the end of the season and possibly learn a few things in the process if it meant reaching that ultimate goal, which is, of course, a national championship. If you don't think that's right, well, I guess you could go ask the 2007 New England Patriots and their fans what they think.