I know everyone is disappointed. Get over it as soon as possible.
Folks, it may not feel like it now, but we need to celebrate this team. Celebrate the fact that the Kentucky Wildcats, after four years of irrelevance, is hated by darn near everyone. Celebrate the fact that this young, freshman-led team got us all the way to the next-to-last weekend in the basketball season.
Look, I know you all wanted a Final Four at least. I wanted it. Bad. But we were denied by an excellent effort by the West Virginia Mountaineers. They deserve a ton of credit for all the great things they did, and finally, after all the great games the Wildcats played, their youth finally got the best of them. West Virginia's greater experience was the difference, but nobody can doubt the heart of this Kentucky team. West Virginia does not doubt it, but they won a game they deserved to win.
Many of you who read this blog have played basketball, or have played sports at some time in your lives. Sometimes, you just can't make the ball go in the basket. You can't explain it. You can't rationalize it. It just happens. And tonight, it happened to Kentucky.
More after the jump.
Normally, I give you my game impressions, but not tonight. Tonight, I am going to put aside the pain of getting "that close" to the Final Four, and give thanks for the great effort these fine young men gave in coming up just short against West Virginia.
Many of us believed that this team could go all the way, and after the game against the Cornell Big Red, I began to believe as well. But I knew, as most of you did, that the Wildcats were due for a game where things didn't go their way. These are the ups and downs of youth, and the reason that NBA guys rarely have these kinds of nights is that they have the experience to deal with the reality that sometimes, shots are wayward, effort is insufficient, and you get outplayed.
You have to love the unselfish, determined effort this team gave to try to get back in the game, and they came just a couple of made shots away from achieving the comeback. They panicked for a while there, which was the first time we had seen that all year, but you knew, and I knew, that it was likely to happen eventually.
I want to give props to coach John Calipari. He did a great job with these young guys, and even though they lost, I know he is as proud of them as I am. He gave them everything he had, but sometimes, everything is just not enough.
So in summary, we have no reason to hang our heads. To the contrary, I will be wearing the Blue and White as often as I can, because Kentucky is completely back from the wilderness they have been aimlessly exploring for a long four years. From the NIT, to the Elite Eight. That is a journey worth traveling, and a destination worth arriving at. West Virginia was the better team tonight, but I think the Wildcats will be a frequent visitor to this spot, and beyond, going forward.
Congrats to the Mountaineers, and congratulations to the Wildcats on a great season.