(Note: I've been overwhelmed with work and home-related drama these past several weeks. Tru has been kind enough not to drop my posting privileges. Today I'll make him pay for that. :) )
Today, in the former house of the Tub, we should give thanks for Orlando and his recruiting.
Not long ago, some of us were using Tubby's recruits as an excuse on why the Wildcats are so terrible. The upper-classmen are not leaders or strong-willed. The sophomores and freshmen are not what supposedly the level of talent Kentucky needed. We heard rumors about how anywhere from 1-5 current players were going to leave the team during Christmas break. Once Billy has several years of recruiting, these folks reasoned, we'd finally be back on top.
We know Billy didn't think that -- these were his guys, remember? And his guys took the lumps in a disappointing non-conference schedule, and have continued to improve. In our losses to Miss. State and Florida, we were never overwhelmed. In our wins, we had the toughness to pull out the victory. And credit goes to Billy and the team for their hard work and efforts.
Shouldn't Tubby get a little credit as well?
I do believe the criticism of Tubby's recruiting is fair. Take one look at our junior class. That's not an explicit knock on Jared Carter -- I feel sorry for the kid due to his injuries -- but who else is there besides Jared? Exactly. And the other criticisms of Tubby and how he wanted to run the UK program are fair.
But if we can blame Tubby for the "recruiting woes", we can also credit Tubby for when his recruits succeed. Where would this team be if we didn't have Meeks and Jasper? Where would we be if Perry Stevenson didn't have the work effort to become a better player -- something Tubby obviously saw when he recruited him? Where would we be if Tubby didn't lay down the foundation for recruiting the P-1000? Where would we be if our two highly-touted but "disappointing" seniors hadn't stepped up as leaders on the court?
The joke I kept hearing was "boy, I can't wait for Senior Day and get this over with." Honestly, I don't want Senior Day to come, because I'm honestly enjoying watching Ramel and Joe play with passion and toughness. And remember, these two were part of Tubby's recruiting mistakes, according to some folks.
If this team of Tubby recruits somehow grit themselves into an impressive SEC showing, a great SEC run, and -- hope beyond all hopes -- a spot in the NCAA's, the players, Billy and his staff deserve praise for turning the season around.
But Tubby also deserves a tad of that praise. He got most of our players into Lexington, and their efforts should reflect his assessment of them.