The Kentucky Wildcats' season comes to an end tonight in Arlington, Texas as the Connecticut Huskies defeat them in the 2014 NCAA Tournament final, 60-54. The Wildcats remarkable run ends with a six point defeat. They just used up all their lives, I guess. When you play on the edge as much as Kentucky did this tournament, you are going to eventually run out of good luck. That's pretty much how it went tonight.
You are going to hear all the usual bullcrap from the haters about Calipari teams and free throw shooting and blah, blah, blah. You are going to hear all sorts of crap, but we can hold our heads high. All the others who'll be flicking fecal matter in your direction would have chewed off their left arm to be where we were. It's pure, green-eyed jealousy.
Now, to UConn. I can't tell you how impressed I am with Kevin Ollie's team. They absolutely deserved to win this game, and I want them to enjoy this, because it was something special, and this UConn team was something special. You have our respect, Huskies, and you've absolutely earned every bit of it. Well done, great season.
For the Wildcats, well, we did a lot of good things, but unfortunately, Kentucky just didn't make enough free throws and didn't get enough rebounds. Those two things were the main reason why Kentucky lost this game, along with the toughness and determination of the Connecticut guards.
NCAA championship final: UConn 60, UK 54. Final box pic.twitter.com/G7qbqBxQSm— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) April 8, 2014
I want all of you, each and every one, to pat yourselves on the back. This blog has been fantastic this season through the tough times and the exciting times that just ended tonight. I know some of you will want to vent at the officiating, or at the coach, or at this player or that, but I urge you to swallow your bile, put on a smile, and celebrate this outstanding young basketball team. They played this game with honor, and with energy. Yes, they had their ups and downs, and they picked a bad night to shoot poorly from the line, but you don't get to chose the times when things go wrong.
Look at all the things that went right! My goodness, we sent our rivals home with a case of butt-hurt, we beat arguably the best team in the tournament, and defeated a Wisconsin team we probably had no business beating. This team did wonderful, miraculous things. And I want to remind you that all we ask of our teams is that they compete for a national championship. We know if we get there often enough, we'll win our share.
But tonight was not the Wildcats' night, although it was an incredibly exciting run that will never be forgotten. None of us would have imagined at the beginning of the SEC Tournament that Kentucky would be playing for the NCAA Tournament championship. That is what happened, and that transformation cannot ever be minimized or taken away. This team totally lived up to their promise, even if they did so somewhat awkwardly, like a young thoroughbred first finding its legs. Fitting, to say the least.
I don't know when I've ever been more impressed with a group of young men, and I will remember this team as what they were — a great group of guys that finally found just enough of the team concept to almost turn the college basketball world on it's ear. It didn't happen, but it could have.
And so begins the beginning of the end. The circle of life takes hold. Let's see what it brings.
For all the Rex Chapman hullabaloo, there's this:
I suspect Rex is listening to people he trusts, but ones with mistaken information. Forget about it, and don't hold it against Rex, he's always been a bit of a flake. Good guy, though,and a bona-fide Kentucky hero, one of my favorite players ever. And if he turns out to be right after all well, just remember who we are, and that this program is bigger than any coach.