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After a night's sleep, does anyone feel better?

There is simply no muse like a traumatic, unexpected event.

Just a few days ago, I was struggling to come up with things to talk about -- football was still in the interregnum of a bye week, the basketball team was beating up on cupcakes -- there just wasn't a lot to write about.  All that changed last night with the defeat of Kentucky at the hands of ... Gardner-Webb.  Say that again -- Kentucky lost to Gardner-Webb ... by 16 in Rupp Arena!  Sounds like something you might read on The Onion, but folks, this one is just as real this morning as it was last night when I went to bed.

I will be using this post to highlight news links, and updating the news box below a bit later.  It takes time to do, and right now, I am more interested in making a few points for discussion.

Number one:  I see an awful lot of people blaming this loss on Tubby Smith.  Folks, that is just silly.  Even if we were to accept the argument that Smith left the cupboard bare, blaming this loss on lack of talent is utterly non-sequitur.  We have two seniors who were highly ranked, one of them a high school all-American, several highly ranked sophomores, two freshmen high school all-Americans, and a hot new coach who has resurrected programs far worse off than us.  I wonder if Gardner-Webb had a 3-star among them?  That fact alone aught to be enough to win against a team like Gardener-Webb.  May I respectfully suggest that if you feel the urge to continue to blame Tubby Smith for everything bad that happens to the Wildcats, you are doing the Big Blue Nation, but more importantly your own credibility, a disservice.

Number two:  Those fans who "booed", I hope you were booing the referees and the other team.  I chose to believe that for now.  If you weren't, you need to grow up.  These things happen during transitions.  Get over it, or prepare for nasty reprovals.  I will show you no mercy.

Number three:  For those of you griping about pre-season tournaments, Kentucky isn't going to stop playing in them.  Gardner-Webb had just as much (or just as little) practice time as we did.  If you want to blame it on something, blame it on the exhibition games.  I have never quite figured out why we play those.

Number four:  No matter how dark this seems, just remember that there are worse things.  For example, we don't have to explain this for the rest of our lives.  That's something to be thankful for.

Number five:  Is this one of the worst defeats Kentucky has suffered at Rupp Arena?  Yes, it is, but it isn't the only bad loss we have had here.  Sooner or later, every team is going to go through this, even the mighty UK.  It sucks, but it is a fact of life.

I would like to bring some blogger reax from the BBN, but I have seen some things that would cause me to make comments I might regret, so I think I'll just let people vent in their little corner of cyberspace for now.  After things have calmed down a bit, we'll bring some of those on board.  So instead, let's go to some other bloggers and media types who have less invested in the team:

John Clay gets the tone just about right, and Billy Gillispie himself tells us who is at fault:

"The guy to blame for that is me," said Gillispie. "No question about it. It's all on my shoulders. We got our tails kicked."
I think there is plenty of blame to go around here.  Our seniors get a good of it for playing awful, and an utter failure to lead the team, but make no mistake -- Gillispie's strategy for this game blew up big time.  It happens, but let's just not let it happen too often.  Clay also relates the Pittsburgh loss Pitino suffered some time back.  This one is worse than that, but no more or less disappointing to me.

Kyle at Putting Up Bricks (some sweet synchronicity in that name, don't you think?) wonders if Billy G. might be missing College Station right about now:
Is College Station, or even El Paso where Gillispie broke into the game, looking good now? The Kentucky fanbase was merciless toward last head coach Tubby Smith...and Tubby won a national championship less than a decade ago. Are dark days ahead for Gillispie?
I'd say based on the reaction I have seen, the dark days are pretty much here already.

Rush the Court wonders if is up yet:
Well, Coach, UK fans were already booing tonight, and with good reason. You're going to have to figure out how to become Daniel Boone in a hurry, or things could get very ugly for you there.
Things are ugly now, but it will calm down.  And there is never a good reason to boo your team.  Period.

To the mainstream media, of course we have DeCourcy, who doesn't pull any punches, but ends on a note of optimism (of sorts):
Losing this game does not necessarily condemn Kentucky to the kind of season North Carolina endured in 2001-02. (Sorry, UK fans, but the notion of that 8-20 nightmare had to have crossed your minds). It does suggest more realistic expectations need to be adopted and Gillispie given time to repair the program's recruiting apparatus.
Actually, it never did cross my mind, Mike, not even once until you mentioned it.  Our team may have looked broken last night, but the truth is, it is merely a cobbled-together shell of what it will be in a few weeks.  Most UK fans realize this, even if those outside the program have no real reason to.

Finally, Mike at Card Chronicle sums up the game beautifully:
And just how well had Rick Scruggs prepared these guys? They attacked off the dribble, they made the proper adjustments when they were called for, and it looked like they had a perfect plan to defend everyone on UK, with the exception of Alex Legion whom Scruggs' staff hadn't had the opportunity to see much of. And how awesome was it to see the gorgeous passes to the cutter, and block outs so solid that the ball would hit the floor before a Runnin' Bulldog would grab it?
It's so tempting just to blame the loss on bad play, and we certainly provided a lot of that.  But it is extremely unfair to Gardner-Webb not to notice their outstanding game plan, near-flawless execution, and gritty determination in the face of a far superior foe in a hostile arena.  They rose to the occasion and played great basketball.  The Cats fiddled while Rupp burned.

So there we are, my brothers and sisters in blue -- the bad and the ugly.  There is no good, unless you count two uninterrupted weeks of practice -- something, I think it's safe to say, this team needs quite a bit of.

Update [2007-11-8 12:30:37 by Truzenzuzex]:  Aaaannd now ... We get the Pat Forde treatment:

So now we'll see how long it takes new Cat coach Billy Gillispie to get the Lloyd Carr treatment for an unconscionable, unforeseeable but absolutely unmistakable loss.

At least Carr lost close, 34-32, with a game-winning field goal attempt blocked on the final play. Gillispie's Kentucky team was never in the game. They trailed 14-0 out of the gates and only briefly got the deficit into single digits.

Lloyd Carr after one game?  You would think that Pat forgot he used to write around here.  He's gone all TLT Jeff Goodman on us.

Gotta give The Loathsome Troll Jeff Goodman credit, though -- UK didn't show up in his top 25 (although I think that was for a reason other than merit, but who knows?)

Update [2007-11-8 17:11:27 by Truzenzuzex]:  Heh.  Great -- we made the WaPo.