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VMI 111 Kentucky 103: Post Mortem -- Two Years In a Row

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First things first.  Congratulations to the VMI Keydets.  They deserved to win this game, and even though they have had my respect from the beginning, they have significantly more now.  Well done.

I don't know what to think about this.  Yes, I know I predicted much of what happened, but I never ever believed that VMI could possibly beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena.  I said so in the game thread, and I was very much mistaken.

This is just like the Gardener-Webb loss, and is quite frankly inexcusable.  I know this is a young team, and I know VMI plays a frenetic style that is capable of pulling big upsets when everything falls.   But this was a perfect example of how not to play basketball against a high-possession team.

What went wrong?  Well, the list is long, but not particularly distinguished:

  • Turnovers -- I warned that turnovers would be a problem if they happened, and they really happened in spades.
  • Giving an inferior team hope -- This is the one thing that the Kentuckys and the Dukes and so forth cannot do -- give an inferior team hope.  It makes them better than they are.
  • Play the game the opponent wants you to play -- I remember thousands of times when UK was the up-tempo team and the opponent tried to do what we do, it went very badly for them.  History has a way of repeating itself.
  • Offensive rebounds -- we allowed far to many, and I have no idea a this point how many that was.  UK had a chance to win this game, and offensive rebounds essentially cost the 'Cats the opportunity.
  • General pathetic play -- This is a catch-all term for failure to defend, failure to rebound, failure to make free throws, failure to do anything useful.  Kentucky excelled in GPP tonight, and even though I was convinced that the Keydets could not beat us in a 40 minute game, once again I have been proven rather less than omnipotent.

I want to criticize Gillispie pretty badly right now.  It isn't really acceptable for a Kentucky coach to tank a game like this in his second year.  He gets a pass in his first year, but this is not something that I can excuse, especially not at this instant.  I don't know what he told the team, but I do know this -- telling them to slow down the game and avoid the track meet we saw should have been #1 on his list.  Either it wasn't, or nobody on the team thinks enough of him to listen.  Either way, it is an epic failure of coaching.  I know some of you will want to make excuses for him -- resist the urge -- he gets paid to take the heat, and he has some coming here.

I know some of you who don't hang here a lot will be tempted to post hostile, angry, profane stuff.  Don't.  I will either delete it or ban you outright, depending on my mood, and right now, my mood is foul.  So take a deep breath, compose yourself, and make good, quality arguments and respect your fellow members.  If you have had a few too many, take my advice -- type an angry, profanity-laced tirade, and delete it before posting.  You'll feel better for having written it and better for having deleted it.

I would like to tell you all to take heart, and in reality, this was a bizarre game played in a way we will never likely see again this year or any other (unless we want to make it an annual thing to play the Keydets).  Yes, they were beyond hot, and yes, the stars were perfectly aligned.  But this was a black eye for the program, and I don't think we have enough makeup to hide the damage.  So hang your head in shame and believe me when I say that it is absolutely warranted.  Tomorrow, perhaps, we will wake up and find that Armageddon has not yet come, even though at this precise moment, I would welcome it.  On the off chance the world does not end tonight, I may have more to say tomorrow.