Blue2K. 2000 wins. First in history.
Thanks to Bruiser Flint and the Drexel Dragons for coming in and working hard. The 'Cats were just too much for anybody tonight, so there is no shame in this defeat -- UK could have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers on this evening in Rupp Arena. Drexel is a much better team than they showed, and this was just one of those games.
This may be the shortest postmortem in history, because I have nothing to criticize, and no superlatives do justice to how well Kentucky played tonight. Let's just see how the 'Cats fared versus my pre-game comments:
- More defensive intensity, particularly from the guards -- check.
- Continued good ball movement -- check.
- More aggressive rebounding. I thought last game was a little off in that department -- check.
- Better play off the bench. The 'Cats need more contributions from our bench players, particularly defensively at the wings. -- double check.
- Fewer turnovers -- check.
- Get to the line -- check.
- Seven steals or more -- check.
- No matador defense -- check.
My fellow members of the Big Blue Nation, for the first time this season all I have to say is, "Gentlemen, that was outstanding."
I am simply gobsmacked by the effort of DeAndre Liggins. I could care less about the two open shots he made, he played savage defense, and never let up a second. That effort was contagious, and even John Wall played incredible defense. It made me very happy to see that defensive effort, and if this team can do that every game, I don't think any team in America can stand against them.
A few more superlatives, because I must:
- Eric Bledsoe, defensive stopper. He is getting it faster than anyone.
- John Wall, eighth wonder of the world. How many guards can have four turnovers and still be close to a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio?
Patrick Patterson had only one rebound, but Cousins and Orton consumed most of them. But Patrick defended very well, and oh, by the way, made all but one of his shots -- he missed a layup. Efficiency, thy name is Patterson.
- DeMarcus Cousins gets better every game. I have never seen a player get his own miss back more often. He had more offensive rebounds (7) than defensive (6).
- 69.2% from three. Speechless.
- 89.5% from the line. What can you say?
Well, I'm all out of superlatives. I could pat every player on the back, but I don't feel the need to. The celebration was great, I just wish Mr. Wildcat could have made it till now. He would have loved to be here for this.
Congratulations, Big Blue Nation. This is a big moment, and I want everyone to enjoy it. We have been through a lot in the last four years, and as we always knew it would, the program got back on track. We kept the faith, and our hopes became reality faster than the most optimistic among us could have ever dared dream. Upon reflection, l'd never have predicted we could come from the pit of despair (last year's NIT) to winning our first 12 games and stretching our lead over the North Carolina Tar Heels by four games.
We deserve this. We do -- all of us. We have held true to our school and our program. We never abandoned our team despite tearing at our viscera for years. I am going to officially declare that Kentucky is not just back, it is back big time. This team showed tonight that it can be indomitable, utterly unbeatable when they really focus and extend their tremendous natural ability to its fullest. Our coach has gotten much, much more out of these young guys than I would have ever believed at this point in the season, and although there has been a rough patch or two, things are beginning to look very, very promising indeed.
Coach Calipari also deserves some superlatives. He minimizes his impact, saying that he has only won 12 games out of the 2000. That's true, but without him, I don't know if we could have gotten there before North Carolina -- in fact, I doubt it. He played a critical role, even in his brief time, and I'm not letting him get away with modesty. Pat yourself on the back, coach. There were a lot of ways we could have failed, but thanks to you, the players you brought and your amazing success at bringing them along, failure was never a real possibility.
Enjoy this, my friends of the Big Blue Nation. As René Belloq said to Indiana Jones, ""Indy, we are only passing through history -- this IS history."
This IS history, my friends. Celebrate with me.