Well, Big Blue fans, that happened.
First things first. Congratulations to Vanderbilt, this was a win they absolutely deserved. They outplayed Kentucky in every conceivable way, and there really isn’t all that much to say about that except, "Well done, Commodores. Noble victory."
I think we have all kind of run out of emotion for this Kentucky team. We’ve tried hard all year to will them into a group that could eventually live up to their pre-season billing, at least in some reduced-expectation way, but honestly it just never happened. Perhaps this is some kind of karmic balance for having such a dominant team last year. If so, I’m looking forward to the swing the other way.
What went wrong? Well, nearly everything. 34.6% for the game, 29% from three, 50% from the line. Kentucky was never really in this basketball game. 48 whole points? That’s the way to leave an impression on the NCAA Selection Committee – not the kind you want, but to paraphrase Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire, "That’s an impression!"
Before anyone says anything silly, of course we will accept the NIT bid. There is no scenario whatever in which Kentucky, a blue-blood program renowned for their class, would refuse a bid to the NIT in an infantile fit of pique. Calipari understands what it means to be the coach of Kentucky, and the coach of Kentucky does not act like an angry 12-year old. Ever.
It would be nice to say that this was a tough loss, but it really wasn’t. Kentucky was never, ever close to being in this game at any point. This was a complete domination by a team that has been vastly inferior, record-wise, to Kentucky all year long. What can you say about that except, "Game over?"
No matter what, absent an unexpected nova or some other astrophysical calamity, the sun will come up tomorrow morning, and we have to face the reality of this frustrating season for yet another day, and another one after that. I have blown way past the point of frustration to some kind of ambivalent state that will surely be short-lived, but it’s a strange feeling I didn’t even experience back in the Billy Gillispie days. Back then, we kind of knew what we had. Intellectually, we know these guys are better than this, yet they keep proving us wrong over and over again as if it is some kind of challenge. "We told you so, we just aren’t that good!" Weird, and uncomfortable, to say the very least.
But alas, here is where we find ourselves, and "here" is a place that absolutely nobody wants to be. It’s a kind of living punishment, like the movie Groundhog Day. You seem to be close to solving the strangeness – You’ve been shot, stabbed, burned, jumped off buildings, tortured, electrocuted, crushed – everything you can imagine. Yet the alarm goes off the next day to the sound of Sonny & Cher, and it’s back into the breach.
Well, that’s my … whatever it is. If it qualifies as a postmortem, its more a postmortem for our murdered hopes for this season, lying dead on the Bridgestone Arena floor in a puddle of blue blood, wounds mostly self-inflicted. The autopsy will probably show that the body lacked a soul, and identification of the remains will probably prove impossible – this team hasn’t had an identity all year. From a distance, it looked like a basketball team, but when you got close, the features were so ordinary as to defy description.
Well, that’s that. Our fate will be decided Sunday. If we do make it into the NCAA tournament, I won’t know whether to celebrate, or lament the condition of a sport that allows a team this ordinary into its top tier.
That’s all I have. Keep it civil, and trolls, enter at your peril.