If you are like me, you watched the games on Sunday with only the mildest of interest. Obviously, when Kentucky gets knocked out of the tournament, 'Cat fans spend a few days in mourning along with the players and the coach.
But Monday's here, and even if you haven't started your "bounce back" from Saturday, you might as well start thinking about it. Here are a few links to help you get your mind right.
Wall, who could theoretically leave Lexington tomorrow, looked devastated. Cousins, who snaps at coaches and often makes it seem as if he cares about little other than himself, looked like he felt he had let the team down. And Calipari was gracious and introspective in defeat. All of Kentucky's panel (which also included Patrick Patterson) were the definition of class, even after a great disappointment.
This makes me very, very proud of our program, players, and coach. You should be, too.
"I mean, it hurts," freshman DeMarcus Cousins said of the defeat. "And the part that hurts the most is we'll never get a chance to play together again. That's the part that's killing me the most right now. I won't be able to play with my teammates, my brothers, again."
It doesn't have to be that way, DeMarcus. Although you are probably right.
The Cats did more than just win 35 games this year. They won by having fun, by playing together, and by playing the right way...characteristics that any fan can appreciate. The Cats' fast-break offense may make the highlight reels, but it was their lock-down defense that enabled them win this year. The dunks may have gotten the crowd going, but it was their pinpoint passing that enabled them to get to the rim in the first place.
I really think the author of this piece gets it right.
More after the jump.
No one can deny what Calipari did this season in assembling the greatest late signing period class in modern times. Calipari checked egos at the door with this crew, managed minutes, coached a team that could win an uptempo game or in the halfcourt. By the end of the season, they played defense with purpose and passion and won close road games in hostile SEC environments.
Forget what the haters say. Calipari did a wonderful job with this crew, even if Kentucky fell short of their goal.
Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not even next month, but at some point, Stevenson will be remembered for saying he’d rather be a reserve on a team like this than a starter on an NIT team. None of those three men will be remembered for the pitfalls of their first three seasons, because they were there when blue became Blue again.
Lesser programs will not get this. It is beyond their capacity to understand.
When you sell your soul, as Kentucky did to get John Calipari, there are supposed to be riches and fame and rainbows, not an embarrassing butt whipping with the Final Four on the line.
A loathsome troll with less understanding of college basketball than most UK four-year olds -- only somebody is stupid enough to actually pay him to write this dreck. His opinion is typical. Embrace it, we'll be hearing it every year no matter who coaches Kentucky unless we are 22-14 in the NIT.
3. We learned Eric Bledsoe probably needs another year. Bledsoe had flashes during the tournament that definitely suggest he can play at the next level. He's got great scoring instincts and is less turnover-prone than Wall. But he sat in Wall's shadow so much for the season, only to explode in the early games of the tournament, before hitting the wall in this game.
He does. So does Orton. But I don't think Bledsoe likes school very much and I'm not sure Orton and Calipari have great chemistry. We'll have to see how things go.
Sometimes, basketball games are decided in ways the eyes can't see. Sometimes, differences between the winning team and the losing team are imperceptible, made clear only through statistics -- cold, unbiased, objective numbers.
Other times, basketball is really simple.
This game was really simple. The irony is, after defying the pundit's claim all year that shooting was this team's weakness, it proved true in the end. At least for that game.
Kentucky's swarming, pesky and unrelenting pressure defense proved too much for top-seeded Nebraska to handle in a 76-67 victory Sunday night, so the Wildcats are headed to the Kansas City Regional finals against Oklahoma and the Cornhuskers are headed home.
Congratulations to the Hoops team. Could they do what the men could not?
- Quicker Kentucky moves into Elite Eight | Vaught's Views
- Inside look at Kentucky's locker room after loss to WVU - Campus Rivalry: College Football & Basketball News, Recruiting, Game Picks, and More - USATODAY.com
However, there was one mantra that Calipari continued to deliver over and over throughout the season that resonated as anything but coach speak.
His team was just too young.
This team didn't always look young, but they were. And it did catch up to them.
Kentucky's comeback season ended under an avalanche of missed 3-pointers in a 73-66 loss to West Virginia in the NCAA regional finals on Saturday, a dubious end to a remarkable year in which Calipari pulled off one of the quickest turnarounds of all-time.
What more can you say, good and bad?
Of the 26 years since the tournament expanded to its present 64-team format, 2007 through 2009 represented three of the eight "chalkiest" Final Fours (based on lowest average seed) and two of the top three, so it was certainly reasonable to lump them together and make the observation that they were outliers. At the same time, the fact that those three years have been bookended by two of the four least predictable Final Fours makes it difficult now to see 2007-09 as anything more than a historical blip.
Interesting reading, as always, from Basketball Prospectus.
Great programs don't rebuild, of course. They re-load. Calipari has proven he can provide the ammunition. He'll keep the supply lines open.
But even without a national title, or even a Final Four, the Kentucky head coach has given himself a hard act to follow.
True, but realistically, this year was an anomaly in many ways. Very rarely will a freshman team be talented enough to do what this team did. I think you will see players leave early under Calipari, but not as many as is possible this year.
The top four uncommitted high school seniors, according to 8Scout.com, list Kentucky among their college choices. That includes Brandon Knight, Scout's No. 1 point guard in the class.
Reloading is what Calipari will do, and I am excited at the prospect of more good basketball at Kentucky.
I'm in no position to challenge Bilas' studied observations.
But I wish another savvy broadcaster would challenge Bilas on his "lack of great players" comment.
The reason they don't, my dear sir, is because they almost universally agree with him, as would anyone who really knows college basketball.
Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.
And this is where my disagreement with Freeman’s column comes into play. Mr. Freeman sees a Kentucky program that did not get its money’s worth because they face-planted in an Elite Eight game in Calapari’s first year. I follow that logic and think it’s a joke. Considering the bullets typed out above the title of Freeman’s work is laughable. And it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I linked this above, somewhere, but didn't feel like taking it apart. Fortunately, this fine blogger does a great job, so I don't have to.
- NCAA accepting requests for 2011 Final Four tickets — Jerry Tipton on UK basketball