People are beginning to notice that this version of the Kentucky Wildcats does not have some of the ... shall we say ... verbal lapses in judgment of other college teams and even Kentucky teams of previous years. These 'Cats say the right thing, at the right time, every time.
Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal has noticed:
UK is playing like one of the two best teams in America. It’s tough writing about the Wildcats. For a month, they’ve displayed little but sustained excellence. Off the court, they don’t say wild things. They don’t talk trash.
If further evidence is needed, there is this article from Larry Vaught:
"Indiana is a great club. We have to come out thinking they did beat us the first time, so they can beat us again. We have to make sure we are ready," said Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, who had 15 points and 15 rebounds that game despite picking up two fouls in the first half. "It really doesn’t matter who we play. We just want to win. They beat us before, and we’ve seen that shot over and over on ESPN. But we know it will be a hard game.
"We can’t think of this as revenge or payback or whatever the case may be. We have to come out with intensity like we had tonight (in an 87-71 victory over Iowa State Saturday), lock up and have fun."
That's precisely what players should be saying. Is it what they are likely to be thinking? No, of course not. Let's face it, they are as human as the rest of us, and of course they want to prove that upset win by the Indiana Hoosiers in December was an anomaly that they can avenge. There's nothing wrong with thinking that, but saying it is another matter, because it can be used as "bulletin board material" in the locker room to provide that little extra bit of motivation.
For Indiana's part, they have found new ways to motivate themselves:
They couldn’t bring up handing the Wildcats their only regular-season loss, in December. They couldn’t discuss how several Kentucky players angered the Hoosier faithful by calling the Christian Watford buzzer-beater "a lucky shot." And they couldn’t point out that upsetting Kentucky a second time finally would legitimize them in the mind of critics who have doubted them all season.
I admit, I was taken aback by this. I would agree with the assertion that Christian Watford's shot was not lucky at all -- it was a defensive breakdown that resulted in a wide-open three that Watford makes at a 44% clip on the season, and that stat includes bad shots as well as good ones. I would suspect he shoots wide-open 3-point shots at closer to 70%, so the only way "luck" could have reared it's ugly head in that particular case is if he had missed. Then it would be IU fans talking about luck -- the bad kind -- and they'd have a point.
Still, that hardly seems a good reason to get off into a tizzy. The fans of any team who lost on a last-second shot are going to call it luck, and you can hardly blame them. UK fans could make a more practical case that IU was lucky to get us then and not now, when such a breakdown would be far less likely.
But whatever -- my point is that to be upset about an opponent calling a shot "lucky" when it really wasn't would hardly register on the radar of disses among even paranoid Kentucky fans. The fact that it reportedly does so in Hoosierville will probably just make UK fans say "Thank God for Indiana," because this would arguably make Hoosier fans even more paranoid and sensitive that UK fans are famous for being.
Thinking back to the Iowa St. Cyclones game when Royce White went crazy, ran down the floor and dunked on Kentucky's head twice in three possessions with just over 18 minutes to go, forcing a time out and prompting White to claim to the ISU faithful, as well as the assembled media and cameras, that he (and presumably not Naismith finalist Anthony Davis) was the best player on the YUM! Center floor. About 5 minutes later, the Wildcats would go on a 14-0 run, and seven minutes after that, the game was statistically over for the Cyclones with 6:27 remaining in the game.
Whether White was right or not, I think one thing should be abundantly clear to him now -- no matter how good he is, and that is subject to debate, it takes a team to win basketball games. Next time, perhaps he should consider the rest of his team -- they could have used a little of that energy as well.
Anthony Davis has won the Oscar Robertson Trophy. From CoachCal.com:
The first major national player of the year award is in and Anthony Davis is the winner.
Kentucky’s high-flying, shot-blocking anchor was awarded Monday with the 2012 Oscar Robertson Trophy, given by the U.S. Basketball Writers Associations to the national player of the year.
There are a number of such awards given out each year, and it has been pretty obvious for some time that Anthony Davis was going to win at least one of them. For more about the award, according to the BigO.com:
The Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is the premier men's college player of the year award. It is also the only player of the year award actually named after a player — in this case, the National Association of Basketball Coaches' "Player of the Century."
This trophy will be given out by Robertson himself at the Final Four in New Orleans. The first Oscar Robertson Trophy was won by none other than LSU's "Pistol" Pete Maravich.
Congratulations, AD, on your newest hardware edition. May it be only the first of many.
No excuses now.
Anything short of a national title for Kentucky will equal failure. For the current team, for the program and for John Calipari.
No blue ribbons, Final Four banners or "One Shining Moment" appearances for Coach Cal’s team will not suffice. This has to be the year.
There's no doubt that's how the media, and probably a lot of Kentucky fans would see it if Kentucky fails to bring home the bacon this year.
With that said, lest we need to be reminded, two #2 seeds are out of the tournament in the first game they played. These are teams for which at least as Sweet Sixteen would have been mandatory under the same logic, yet they failed. But nobody will remember except Missouri and Duke fans.
Bottom line -- Disappointment happens in a one-and-done tournament.