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Kentucky Basketball Serenity: Listen to the sound of the wind ...


... that's blowin' through the trees, rivers are flowin' to the sea.
Yeah they're all comin' home just like you and me.
Life's for livin', child can't you see, cause,
These are the days we will remember
And these are the times that won't come again
The hottest of flames becomes an ember
And you've gotta live it while you can ...  -- Keith Urban
These are the Days

Serenity struck me this afternoon in a way I didn't expect after the debacle of last night.  After a very trying day at work and finally getting to a stopping point, I just felt the burden of the thundering defeat at the hands of North Carolina last night and the pressure of the day's trials just slip off like a heavy yoke.  I was suddenly reminded of the memorable words of Traitor Rick Pitino, "Live in the precious present."

Of course, for most Kentucky fans, the present isn't all that precious.  The Wildcats are the leading the nation in assists for the other team, and UK finds itself firmly on the wrong end of an 0-2 start.  Nobody for Kentucky is playing well, coach Gillispie looks somewhat overwhelmed by it all (even if he probably isn't) and nobody can point to anything particularly promising except for one thing -- we are two games into a thirty game season.

That fact is the source of much of my sudden bout of serenity.  We have just barely begun this campaign, and despite the early stumbles, Kentucky is not nearly as unfortunate in reality as they have looked so far.  Last night, as Ken Pomeroy points out below, there were a few bright spots in an otherwise profound darkness.  Nothing like the light at the end of a tunnel, mind you, but more like the discovery of a luminescent fungus or mold in a dark cave that lights the way down an otherwise impenetrable blackness, forcing us to grope and trip just a little less on the way to ... where?

We don't know where, and therein lies the other cause for my sudden bout of tranquility.  One of the truly great things about a basketball season is that it is a journey, not a destination.  It would be nice if Kentucky were back on top of college basketball, but I think Kentucky fans are finally waking up to the realization that there are no quick fixes in the college game these days.  Teams take time to turn around after running into difficulty, coaches take time to get acclimated to their job, and life does not stop to wait for the Wildcats to catch up with it.

I remember last year's SEC run, and the puzzlement of the basketball world as Kentucky managed to surprise everyone and finish a close second in the SEC East to Tennessee.  Many thought at that point that Kentucky had arrived again, but alas, not yet.  Not yet.  As anxious as we are, we must listen to the wind, the sound of the world, the fans, the thump of the ball on hardwood.  The satori will come for this team.  Not immediately and not all at once, to be sure, but come it will and when it does, it will be all the more wonderful for the contrast with the pain and frustration we feel now, just as the sweet is more intense after the bitter.

Let us not forget our history, our proud heritage, and how long we struggled before the halcyon days of Traitor Rick.  Twenty years we went between the championships years of 1958 and 1978, and to duplicate that feat will take ten more years.  I don't believe it will be that long before the 'Cats are back on top, and I don't think most Kentucky fans do either.  So instead of taking it out on the world and your fellow fans, trust the program.  It doesn't matter if you trust coach Gillispie, trust the program that has delivered seven national championships and two in the last 15 years.  Take a deep breath, and think about the glory past and the glory yet to come.  As the saying goes, it always looks darkest just before the dawn. 

Remember how the Suffocats, down 25-11 at Vanderbilt after the first ten minutes, a game very similar to what we saw last night, stormed back unexpectedly to emasculate the Vanderbilt Commodores by 22, barely letting them across half court in the second stanza.  When satori struck them, they became an otherworldly team that never looked back on the way to a #1 national ranking.  Never forget the unexpected national championship of 1998, where the seeming leftovers from the powerful 1996 and 1997 teams wound up grasping the brass ring.  All these things may seem a distant memory now, but they are the result of the program, not just the man who sat in the hot seat

Trust the program, and your trust will be rewarded.