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Kentucky Basketball: Big Blue Navel-Gazing

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Now that the season is over for the Kentucky Wildcats, we are seeing a good bit of introspection on the part of Wildcat fans everywhere.  As introspection is practically our stock in trade here at A Sea of Blue, it's probably time we bit the bullet and joined the party.

Every Kentucky fan had hoped to see an end to the chaos surrounding Lexington after John Calipari made his triumphant pilgrimage to the big office in the Joe Craft Center.  But alas, the untidiness of the last four years has merely metastasized -- from who might be leaving the program due to unhappiness to who might be leaving to join the pros.  The angst is still there, there are no new NCAA championships (or even a Final Four) to celebrate, and for the second year in a row, one of the programs UK fans least want to be there is in the National Finals.

Add to that Devil's brew a dollop of questions surrounding the cohesion and happiness of a team that fans had been repeatedly told were "having fun," a dash of fear of having only four or five returning players, a pinch of uncertainty about who will be coming to replace the departing and aspiring pros, a little unethical and juvenile fan behavior, and a healthy dose of second-guessing Doctor Calipari's prescription for Kentucky basketball, and you have one foul-smelling plate that the Big Blue Nation is understandably reluctant to taste.

On the flip side, Kentucky has achieved national prominence again, won the SEC regular-season and tournament championships, put "paid" to many old debts in the form of beating teams that have dominated the Wildcats over the last few years, had several All-Americans, a couple of Player of the Year awards, a plethora of positive press coverage, an Elite Eight, attention from every five-star recruit in America and a partridge in a pear tree.

Now that we've seen that there are two sides to every coin, or a silver lining to every cloud (or whatever trite metaphor you prefer), here are a few questions to think about as you contemplate the nature of your belly-button lint while dreading the sight of Duke defecating on the hopes and dreams of college basketball fans everywhere:

  1. What if Calipari had kept Matt Pilgrim and allowed Daniel Orton to go elsewhere?  Pilgrim had a really solid year with the Oklahoma St. Cowboys, and probably could have filled in Orton's spot, who's playing time and usage have been criticized by his father.  Calipari could have traded a bit of talent for experience there.

  2. Based on 1. above, could Calipari have used more of the Dribble Drive Motion?  Would that have helped?

  3. Will John Calipari's teams ever get over the deserved reputation of being lousy from the line?  Is this just a stubborn thing that Calipari refuses to address, or is it just "bad luck?"

  4. Can a Kentucky team starting completely over and be as successful considering the incoming recruiting class will be just as young, and according to knowledgeable experts less talented, than this year's class?

  5. Is the "recruit the best players, all the time" strategy that Calipari employs likely to succeed?  We have seen this year arguably the best freshman-led team in college basketball history, but they managed to fall victim to their youth just short of the finish line.  Exception, or trend?

  6. Is it possible to really recruit at the level Coach Cal is recruiting at and maintain a cohesive team, given that this team appears to be somewhat less "happy" than we were led to believe?

  7. How much will UK's APR take a hit this year with the departing players?  Will it cost Kentucky a scholarship?

  8. What lessons did Coach Cal learn from this team's success and failure?

  9. What lessons did Kentucky fans learn about themselves from this season?

  10. Now that UK is hated almost as badly as Duke, how do you feel, dear Kentucky fan?

Of course, this is all meant mostly in fun, and the answers to these questions don't really exist except in our own obsessed minds.  But we here at A Sea of Blue are known for asking questions of the darkness.  Who knows, maybe someday soon, the answer will be, "Number Eight."