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On De-Tubbification

I'll admit, it's been a while. I got a new job, and a new kid. Pretty cute kid, too.

I am enjoying this UK football run. And I'm glad it's Tru getting to write all this gridiron stuff, because frankly my heart's not it in. Sure, I'm on the bandwagon. Got my 1996 UK degree in English that gives me a free pass despite my years of badmouthing the football team. Plus, someone owes me for that 1992 season I went to every home game of. Big time.

But maybe you didn't remember this between the articles on UK's next two-star football recruits and  those "BCS champs" 3/4-sleeve T-shirts you've been printing up, but it's BASKETBALL SEASON.

So while we cheer on the old football Wildcats into what is, quite simply, uncharted waters, some of us will take that little dinghy off the side of the USS Rich Brooks and spend our time focused on what really matters -- Perry Stevenson's eating habits. Or Michael Porter's shoe collection. Or Alex Legion's fondness for political activism. Or what have you.

Interestingly, this being my first post on the new regime, truly, I chose to focus on the transition from the old one. But it won't be for more Tubby-bashing. I already tried that one. And at this point, what's the point? We got our new guy, and his new guys.

But as Rick Bozich also happened upon, while we all applaud the arrival of some help in the form of a couple of lauded freshmen (plus some we don't quite know what to make of yet), there are a few guys we will lean on heavily this season that we can't afford to overlook.

I keep seeing naysaying of Tubby's guys (excluding Jodie Meeks, whom fans seem to just forgive for being a Tubby Smith recruit). Joe's too slow, or a ballhog. Ramel's too flaky. Stevenson's got a bad attitude. Jasper is yesterday's news. Porter's not good enough. And on and on.

But now that the hallowed Class of '07 is departed (Oh, Sheray, may ye set picks forever in YMCA gyms, eh?), what we have is a team leaner and fitter and hungrier. And that is some unquantifiable stuff right there, ain't it?

Don't get me wrong, I see the enthusiasm for Patrick Patterson and Alex Legion. But the idea that somehow we must purge ourselves as fans of the Tubby Smith era because it ended on a down note is foolhardy. And surprisingly prevalent.

In what will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst analogies ever to grace this site, I am reminded of what the Bush administration -- specifically former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority Paul L. Bremer III -- decided to do to punish former Baath Party members for their support of the old regime. Namely, fire them. They called it De-Baathification.

I don't mention this as a political statement. Lord knows those go with UK basketball about as well as ice cream and dog doo, but it is instructive in one way. What not to do.

Oversimplifying, what happened with the former Baathists is that they got really pissed off. And while certainly many of them had supported Saddam's party, like the Communist Party of the old USSR, to be anyone in society you had to join the Baath party. So basically, anyone who was a teacher, public servant or civil engineer, etc, was banned from participating meaningfully in the new government. As we can see with hindsight, this plan didn't bear much fruit.

So how does this apply to UK hoops? Punishing guys for being loyal to their coach, or for merely being recruited by their coach, call it De-Tubbification, is shortsighted, and wrong. Derrick Jasper was a top 40 recruit. Joe Crawford was a top 15 recruit.

Sure, we've seen some rough stuff from a few of these guys, but that's old news. For all we know, the real Joe Crawford is a healed knee from dominating the floor. And why not assume the same for Jared Carter, or even Morakinyo Williams? The desire to take out your frustrations with the old coach on his old players won't help them play better, and it'll probably cloud your judgement of them.

Let's stamp out De-Tubbification before the season. Smith is gone, and with him should go our doubts and frustrations about his guys.

Update [2007-10-24 12:42:32 by Truzenzuzex]:  Comments were accidentally disabled for this post.  They have been re-enabled now, so comment away!