Usually I respond after reviewing the video of the most recent UK competition but as of this time I haven't gathered the resolve to watch the last game a second time — whether I ever do is in question, but that doesn't mean I can't comment. In my view the first response is philosophical followed by an attempt at materiality. To many comparing the loss of something so inconsequential as a basketball game to the grief process is a stretch of rationality but then of course the use of rationality in conjunction with Big Blue fandom is in itself oxymoronic. Accepting that as fact on to a philosophical response. 35-3. 35-3, folks! How many of us would not have accepted that as a standard of excellence for a team dominated by first-year players learning a new system under a first-year coach? A SEC regular season and tournament championship, how many would not have welcomed those as worthy goals? A return to the NCAA tournament and as a #1 seed, how many would not have allowed that that wasn't a laudatory achievement? And once in the postseason to dominate 3 opponents in route to a level not achieved in 5 years, how many would not have considered that a performance due high acclaim? And off the court the beloved program is once again a main topic of conversation among the basketball commentariat (now amplified by the Internet to include just about anyone with access to a keyboard) — although the exegesis is not always positive but even that is more acceptable than irrelevance. Finally for those of us blessed to be citizens of BBN we once again stand eye-to-eye, toe-to-toe with the other elite programs and know we belong in the conversation if for no other reason than that UK is not only the winningest program but has lengthened its lead over its nearest pursuers. Yes, philosophically it was season in which we can all delight.
If that is so then how come I experienced, and am still grappling with, the emotions associated with grief? Even as a fairly stoic persona I found it difficult to sleep, had a loss of appetite, was uncommunicative, didn't enjoy the morning walk with my always happy brown Lab, Simon, and had no interest in today's games. Why, indeed? Because materially I am unfulfilled and materially, though perhaps unrealistically, the team disappointed me, not with the outcome necessarily but with the performance. Materially speaking these are my insights: Isn't it ironic and revelatory that the perceived obstacles of the preseason proved to be the exact stumbling blocks in the final game: efficiency versus a zone defense, questionable perimeter scoring, defending the 3, the predilection of Calipari's teams to underperform at the FT line, lack of backcourt maturity, and the efficacy of the DDMO in disciplinary situations? Re: the DDMO, it appears to me that coaches have made considerable strides in defending it and I expect that evolution to continue. Momentarily regressing to the philosophical all things considered there is little doubt that Calipari is the perfect coach for UK BB, but materially it's apparent that in this game he was out coached in preparation and in-game adjustments by Huggins (and one could infer from the 8-1 head-to-head record that it might be a permanent state of affairs). Finally, while I agree that a national championship is and should be the ultimate goal of UK BB I am in discord with the contention that The Final Four is a poor stepchild. On various occasions, on various media I have heard and seen The Final Four referred to as: the holy grail, the ultimate stage, the crowning achievement, the players' dream, and I believe, thanks to be the media hype and popular acceptance, that to be the case, thus for UK to fall one game short I cannot materially consider 2009-10 a successful season.
It's certainly been a pleasure following along with all those of ASoB and I'm looking forward to the news and commentary from my alma mater, fellow alums and fans. So it's on to basketball recruiting, the decisions of Messrs. Patterson, Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Orton, the Lady Cats (perhaps they can reach The Final Four), Joker's first spring practice and the Bat Cats.