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Love, Sweet Love

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Kentucky is finally getting a fair amount of sweet love from the national media.  After you go on a 10/12 rampage, even the haters have to surrender a modicum of respect.

I don't know about you, dear reader, but this season has been a very trying one.  From the Days of Darkness when everyone was doubting everything about Coach Gillispie and the players on this team, hating on Smith for leaving us such terrible players, passing rumors about underage love affairs and carousing.  I have not forgotten going to bed after the Florida game at the O-dome, so incredibly frustrated I got almost no sleep.  It is doubly fitting, therefore, that the latest victory against Florida is the "cherry on top" of one of the great in-season turn-arounds in NCAA history.

So let's get to some of that sweet, sweet love, shall we?  Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News:

Rising: Kentucky is now like one of the monsters in those awful '80s slasher movies: Jason from Friday the 13th, Freddy Krueger from Nightmare On Elm Street -- take your pick You just can't kill this team. Injuries have taken the two most talented players from the rotation -- Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson -- and they keep competing. UK fans want to believe the 12-4 record in the SEC means the Wildcats are in -- just like Syracuse fans wanted to believe 10-6 in the Big East was good enough last year. As with all bubble teams this season, the Wildcats still have work to do.
Well, I suppose I can't blame him for doubting we're in, that is a legitimate difference of opinion.  But I love Kentucky being compared to Freddy Krueger or Jason.  I loved Freddy -- Jason, not so much -- but the metaphor leaves me wanting more.  So here is more from Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline:
Win to brag about: Billy Gillispie completed the turnaround of all turnarounds Sunday when Kentucky ended the regular season with a 75-70 win over Florida. That means the Wildcats have gone from 7-9 overall (1-2 in the SEC) to 18-11 overall (12-4 in the SEC) in a matter of seven weeks despite losing their best player (Patrick Patterson) to injury. Now the only question is whether the SEC Coach of the Year trophy will read Billy Gillispie or Billy Clyde Gillispie. Because either way it's his.
Oh, yeah.  There is a bit o' honey for ya Billy.  Well earned, I might add.  Next, we go to Andrew Skwara of, writing for Yahoo:
Breakout: Kentucky appears to have found a solid replacement for sidelined big man Patrick Patterson. Lanky sophomore Perry Stevenson, who was averaging less than five points a game before Patterson injured his ankle two weeks ago, hit all six of his field goal attempts, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Wildcats' 75-70 win over Florida. If Stevenson, who scored 13 points and had 14 boards in Kentucky's 63-60 loss at Tennessee, continues to play at that level the Wildcats will be a serious threat to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, we're getting somewhere.  From "more work to do" to "Coach of the Year" to "serious threat to make a run in the tournament."  Still need more?  Spencer Hall, a.k.a "Orson Swindle" of EDSBS fame, has a little something over at The Sporting News:

Blue Blowout: Kentucky

The legendarily patient fans at Kentucky never pressured first-year coach Billy Gillespie. No, not at all. It's all backpats and flowers for the coach who, coming off a win against Florida and a 7-1 run through February, certainly doesn't remember anything about a November loss to Gardner-Webb.

An 18-11 record and an NCAA Tournament bid in Year 1? Fine work by any standards ... even by the, how shall we say this ... "elevated" standards of Kentucky fans.

Heh.  Well, somebody had to mention the Big Blue Nation and our expectations.  Finally, via Chris Diggs at the Courier-Journal UK fan blog, some weirdness from Florida after the game:

"If we played hard like that from the beginning, it wouldn't have even been close," Speights said. "You can look at stuff after the game. But the game's over. You can't do anything about it now."

Nor could Florida do anything about Kentucky's improbable shot-making.

"They hit some big shots at the (shot-clock) buzzer," Calalthes said. "Casper, or Jasper his name is, hit some."

You just gotta learn to hold your ears right, fellas.  And it's Jasper, Nick -- a name I am quite certain you will come to know much better than you would like.