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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Time For the Critics to Pay the Piper

You remember the fake "journalism" from the Chicago Sun-Times when they defamed Anthony Davis, accusing him of taking some $200,000 in return for a commitment to Kentucky, right? I'm sure you also remember when Gary Parrish attempted to resurrect that unfounded and unsupported claim in the middle of last summer, warning us that there would be questions about Davis' alleged impropriety would overshadow his performance on the court. Well, today Matt Jones takes Parrish to the woodshed:

And now here we are. Nine months later, the results are in. Gary Parrish was wrong and no part of Anthony Davis’s play this season was "overshadowed" by the silly Chicago rumor. He has been celebrated as one of the best college basketball players in a decade and has been universally praised by nearly everyone who covers the sport. Even though Kentucky was in the spotlight all season long and had significantly more media attention and scrutiny than any team in the country, I saw virtually no references to the rumor at any point during the year. To my knowledge even Parrish, who defended his summer story by saying that he knew the media and this would be a perpetual issue all season long, did not again write about the issue. Nearly every reporter who covered the Unibrow focused on his amazing game and charming personality.

Indeed, all this is true, and Parrish was not only profoundly wrong, but wrong-headed, and engaging in little more than scandal-mongering, attempting to create a meme out of an unethical act by an unethical newspaper. It failed utterly, and nary a peep has been heard since, from anywhere, about the false accusation by the Sun-Times.

When I read Jones' article smacking Parrish around, I was reminded of some debts that are now due -- a bunch of media articles I promised to revisit when and if Kentucky won the NCAA Tournament championship. As Jim Carey's character in The Mask once said with a couple of mufflers in his hands, "Hold on to your lug nuts, it's time for an overhaul!" In fact, I think we have video:

In this segment, we'll be having some fun at the expense of this article by Thayer Evans, which was published just after Kentucky lost in the SEC Tournament championship game to the Vanderbilt Commodores -- and what fun we'll be having, starting right here:

But despite having all that talent, he’s got a big problem: After months of dominance Kentucky has plateaued in recent weeks, and he doesn’t know how to fix it.

You know, for all the celebrating we have been doing in the Big Blue Nation, there has been precious little schadenfreude. Going back and mocking people after they've been publicly wrong is not just the province of every sports fan, it's almost a partisan responsibility, especially when they do it in a very unambiguous way, like the this Evans article.

Thayer, that's why we pay John Calipari the big bucks. He is able to fix things like this so-called plateau, something that everyone in the Big Blue Nation knew hadn't happened, but you, a sportswriter and former Pete Thamel collaborator, could not see. Nice fail.

He can spin it all he wants, but his team’s flaws — including sleepwalking lapses, a tendency to be stagnant offensively and suspect defensive fundamentals — are major issues. Oh, and don’t forget Kentucky shies away from physical play and has a short bench.

Reciting all the talking points you had ever heard against Kentucky did not rescue you. Even when Kentucky was playing their very worst, they were better than all but about five or six teams in the nation. It took an unprecedented stretch of cold shooting for the Wildcats to lose to Vandy along with some lights-out play by the Commodores, a combination of factors that was not repeated in the tournament, dome or no dome.

As to physical play, everyone tried to out-phyisical us, and every one of them, with two meaningless exceptions, lost -- most convincingly. Wrong again.

It’s all a recipe for another Calipari team to disappoint in the NCAA tournament, especially with a difficult path looming potentially as soon as the third round against underachieving Connecticut.

You mean the Connecticut Huskies team that lost in the first round to Iowa St.? That Connecticut? You were right about one thing, though -- they were underachievers. You just didn't believe your own assessment.

"We’re going to have to execute," he said. "We’re going to have to play hard. We’re going to have to play with some aggressiveness and intensity, or we will get beat."

Actually, count on that happening, no matter what Calipari says. This team won’t win the national championship because of his inability to rectify its problems.

Boy, I sure hope nobody counted on you, Thayer, because if they did, their office pool went up in flames, or their bets went by the boards. Of course, I seriously doubt if many took you at your word. Most college basketball fans, even those who reflexively hate Kentucky and/or Calipari were smart enough to know you were wrong.

The thing is, there were no problems to rectify, unless you count a cold streak of shooting and an opponent playing their best basketball of the season. It took a lot of things to go wrong for UK to lose both the Vanderbilt and Indiana game, and that rarely happens -- something that was obvious to almost every sportswriter in the nation except ... well, except you, Thayer.

It’s too little too late for a team that became complacent while feasting on a middling SEC lacking any other legitimate national title contenders.

You forgot about the fact that we beat most of the national contenders in our non-conference schedule. Indiana? We lost the first one, but not the one that counted. Louisville? 2-0 against them. North Carolina? Beat them, too.

As for SEC competition, how about the fact that the SEC had more Elite Eight participants than the Big East, Big 10 or ACC, and as many as the Big 12? The Florida Gators were good enough to get further than most of those you would consider contenders. You're really not very good at this basketball thing, are you, Thayer?

I notice that there have been no further anti-Kentucky or anti-Calipari rants forthcoming from your word processor -- quite possibly the only truly intelligent thing you have accomplished all year long. Calipari made a monkey of you, and should you ever deign to write another critical article of him, you'll be forced to live with that fact.

Kentucky's kids also, in the gaming vernacular, "pwned" you completely. You mistook a bit of fatigue and cold shooting for arrogance. That's easy to do for a writer predisposed not to like a team or a coach -- it's called "confirmation bias." You were just confirming what you thought you knew, but didn't, and now you have to live with the fact that you weren't just wrong, you were profoundly wrong in almost every single aspect.

And that's the name of that tune.