You know, we haven’t rested on our laurels much this season. We’ve been pretty intense about every aspect of Kentucky basketball, and that’s par for the course around here. But one thing I have learned in my 57 years of life; you have to occasionally stop, look around, and enjoy the little pleasures life offers you before it bypasses you completely.
Let’s take stock of where we are right now: Kentucky is #1 in both polls with only a random Duke voter dissenting on total unanimity. The Wildcats are undefeated, have beaten 3 Ken Pomeroy top ten teams and another in the top 25. The Wildcats have been challenged seriously only once, and that was just this weekend by the Louisville Cardinals, our major rival, in their arena. Barring an unprecedented collapse, Kentucky is looking like a shoo-in for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and has an outside chance at producing the first undefeated season in 39 years.
If it gets better than this, Wildcats fans, I have never seen it. We have seen 30-2 seasons, 34-2 seasons, and 38-2 seasons all ending in NCAA Tournament championships. Some of us have even seen 25-0 seasons without an NCAA Tournament because the bid was declined. But never, in its story, has Kentucky ever had an undefeated season in which it won the NCAA Tournament. It’s unlikely we’ll see one this season either, but just to have a shot at it is rare in the extreme. In fact, since Adolph Rupp left, I can only find five times where Kentucky started off 13-0 including this one, and two of them have been under John Calipari. In all cases but one, the team did not make it to 16-0.
This is the most talented college basketball team in the country in terms of depth, and probably also in terms of… well, anything you can name. There are individual players at other schools who may be more talented at specific positions and in specific situations, but as a general statement, Kentucky stands alone.
The 2014-15 Wildcats are not just full of accomplished players and talented newcomers, but they seem to genuinely like playing with each other, don’t mind sharing minutes, shots, and glory, and have developed an attitude that can only be called "team first." These young men have done nothing but display their quality both in the classroom and on the basketball floor, and that quality can only be described as extremely high in both fields of endeavor.
As a Kentucky fan, I have rarely, maybe never seen a team of young men who seem to be more about each other, and more about the collective, than the team that stands before us. It is the dream of every fan of a sports team to have their favorite school field a squad of such high quality, talented young men. No matter how many people hate Kentucky and its fans, most people hate the Wildcats because as both a basketball team and individuals, they are young, excellent, brilliant, and so far, indomitable.
Breath deep the sweet smell of success, Wildcats fans. It may not last. Things may go south tomorrow. But today, life is good, and so is our favorite college basketball team — really good. Possibly great. Possibly… wait for it… historically great.
I can’t wait for the new year.