Now that I am fully recovered from the temporary insanity that overtook me after yet another close loss, I have decided to engage what few brain cells I still retain and ask a few questions about fan expectations this year. Obviously, pre-season expectations for a good many of us more optimistic Kentucky fans had to go out the window with the Gardner-Webb loss. Now, after eight more losses, we must think about further revisions and extensions to our thinking.
In a recent comment, JL admonished me for my relatively high expectations, and suggested, quite reasonably, that I abandon them and bow to the inevitable that this team is bad and we are just going to have to look forward to the future and just take our medicine in the present. It isn't that I don't want to take his advice, for I consider it reasonably sound, but I simply cannot do so. I have been a Cat fan a long time, and I have never just abandoned my hopes in the face of adversity, however irrational they may seem at the time. I may talk a good game of pragmatism, but when it comes right down to it, I don't walk the walk very well. But even with all that said, there is no doubt that I, and others who have a similar view, must again assess reality and decide what our definition of success is for this season.
It's been a long time since Kentucky men's basketball has stared down a superior foe like Tennessee while sporting a 7-9 record, 2 games under .500. A very long time. So long, in fact that it predates Adolph Rupp. The last Kentucky team to have a record this bad or worse was the 3-13 team coached by UK's first All American, Basil Haden, back in 1927. As old as I am, my dad was little more than an itch in my granddad's pants in 1927. It was a long time ago. But records are made to be broken, and we are breaking long-standing records in futility seemingly every game.
Notwithstanding Kentucky's struggles right now, we have to look forward a bit to the future in terms of what a successful season would look like from here on in. We are clearly an improving team, and assuming the appearance of Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks in last night's game is a harbinger of improving health, what will be our expectations for the future? For my part, I have already accepted the fact that our only path to the NCAA tournament is to win the SEC tournament, and that is the direction to which our efforts should be addressed. Obviously, we will try to win every game, but I think that for the purposes of defining success, we should realize that probably won't happen. I am not even thinking about the NIT, if that happens, I guess it is just unexpected good news.
So here is how I would propose to define success for the remaining 13 games of the regular season. Frankly, I would be happy if we can avoid a losing season, and win 8 out of our last 13 games. Since that includes two dates with Tennessee and one with Florida, as well as Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, it looks like a daunting task, indeed. Of course, we can stand to lose a couple more games if we are able to win a couple in the SEC tournament. If we are able to accomplish that, given the circumstances, I think I would call it "successful." It isn't of course. A truly successful season would require a remarkable turnaround that is highly unlikely. And I have no desire to ponder the alternative.
Even if we don't sniff post season this year, I think I can live with that as long as it is the price that must be paid for future achievement. But I will not put up with a team that refuses to win. We have to find a way to get back on a winning path, even if it is far, far short of what most Kentucky fans would consider an unqualified success.
So I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation -- what are your expectations starting from now? What would it take, considering all the injuries, adjustments and misfortune that has befallen the 2008 Wildcats so far, how would you define success? Below, you will find a poll with several suggestions, but if none of these fits, feel free to explain in the comments. I am not really doing any research here, just taking the temperature of the community and trying to figure out if my own expectations are way out of line. So vote if you like or comment or whatever. I would be interested to hear your thoughts, since tomorrow we will be going into full-blown "Beat the Volunteers" mode.
So, Big Blue Nation -- What say you?
A successful season, at this point, would be:
This poll is closed
Winning the rest of our games in the regular season, and the SEC tournament.
Winning the rest of our regular season games.
Winning the SEC tournament and some of our remaining games.
A winning season overall.
14 wins or more
Other (specify below)