It's been a while since I waxed hyperbolic, or found myself wandering around with my head in the clouds. I think it's good to mostly stay grounded in reality, and not indulge too much in the letting oneself stray into daydreams of glory, confetti, and David Barrett anthems. But after last night, I hope you'll forgive me if I wander off into Joni Mitchell's land of moons and Junes and Ferris wheels, but I can't help myself. I'm falling in love -- with a basketball team.
Now, let's face it -- we Kentucky fans are notorious for falling in love around the ides of every October -- it's as predictable as Gary Parrish's "Damining But"s. This year, though, its even easier than usual, especially after watching the explosive second-half humbling of a solid but somewhat pedestrian (by their lofty standards, at least) Kansas Jayhawks team by the young but extraordinarily gifted Kentucky Wildcats.
Of course, the 'Cats weren't perfect. They weren't even worthy of "outstanding," really, if you consider the number of attempted assists to the other team, and the fact that they got dominated on the offensive glass. In fact, the coach in all of us can find the unhealed blemishes of youth here and there in enough quantity to tell you the lass maybe isn't the supernal beauty that a lover's eye keeps insisting she is. But despite the smudges and imperfections here and there, this Kentucky team could pass for the basketball equivalent of Catharine Zeta-Jones as far as I'm concerned, and don't try to tell me otherwise.
This is the spring of the college basketball season, and many fans are falling in love with their team. No doubt over on Tobacco Road, Tar Heel fans are smitten with their own fair maiden of the hardwood, and soon enough, a beauty contest will be held in Rupp Arena to find out just who is the fairest of them all this year, at least for the early part of the season. Until then, both fan bases can be forgiven for their infatuation with their respective groups.
When Anthony Davis rose repeatedly to send a Kansas player's shot into the Madison Square Garden crowd, or throw the ball through the rim from three feet above it, it sent chills of pleasure down the spine of every Kentucky fan. When Michael Kidd-Gilchrist raced down the floor time and again to lead the break like a gazelle springing gracefully over obstacles and distancing his pursuit, open-mouthed awe at the incredible collection of talent John Calipari has assembled seemed in order. This team is beyond special, and that was on full display last night.
As raw, young, and undisciplined as this team is, it is clear to almost everyone in America after this game that this team is not over-hyped, or aggrandized to the point of absurdity. To the contrary, if anything, this collection of talent has been underrated, if that's even possible when you are talking about a team ranked second in the land. What we saw on display last night in the World's Most Famous Arena™ was potential so vast it almost defies description in terms of the college game.
On the biggest stage, in the biggest city in America, the Kentucky Wildcats 2011-2012 had a coming-out party. It rocked the world and captured the hearts of the blue bloods in the Commonwealth. In most years, just beating a team like the Jayhawks would put the Big Blue Nation on cloud nine, but in this instance, that has been reduced to almost a secondary consideration. Now that we have seen them, we all know that there is only one other college basketball team in the country that even plausibly could have withstood the awesome collection of talent on display last night.
And quite possibly, not even they that wear the powder blue and white are up to a task this daunting.