As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Apr. 9 , 2014.
Needless to say, Monday night was a let down to many of us. But, even before the game was underway I began thinking about the idea of a "perfect season". What do we consider that to be and would it be all it's cracked up to?
The Cats came into the season with their fans loving them and everyone else hating them just as much or more than usual. All eyes are always going to be on the pre-season number one, but let's face it... Unless you are in the Big Blue Nation, you pretty much despise it. While everyone else hated on Kentucky, we had the highest of high hopes for our Wildcats and between having the best recruiting class of all time and being the preseason number one, there was no reason not to have our sights set high.
The "40-0" idea was the idea of perfection. A perfect season. Obviously that was wiped off the table immediately, but looking back... Despite the losses and despite coming up one win shy of the ninth national title, aren't the imperfections what allow the BBN to thrive?
We went from the top, to being the NCAA's joke. No, that stretch of going 5-5 prior to the NCAA Tournament (including not just one, nor two, but THREE Florida losses) was far from 'fun'. But it gave the true blue fans a chance to hang with their team and stand behind them despite the fingers that were pointing and laughing.
And guess what? We got the final laugh. No, we did not win number nine, but the national tournament showed the college basketball world there is a method to the UK madness and the flaws and imperfections of the regular season were all just part of a bigger picture and part of what a young team has to go through.
I couldn't help but sometimes think of our own Rebel basketball squad from this past season when UK had some of their rough games and rough patches. "Freshman mistakes," we often heard--from Stallworth and Calipari. Despite the talent of a player, sometimes, their early experiences at "the next level" involve growing pains. UK had a lot of those this season, just like we saw from our Rebels; but between those freshmen mistakes and growing pains there were those shining moments. In the case of both teams, CCHS and UK, in the post-season we saw kids grow up. There were still moments of frustration and "What were you thinking?!", but then the moments when natural talent came into balance with the motive of playing for your TEAM came together to shine. Those moments outweighed all of the rest.
The Wildcats proved they were what they cracked up to be during the NCAA tournament. Sure, we lost in the end, but if we had one perfect season after another, it would be easy to live in this state and stand behind UK season after season. But these are the seasons that test how thick the blue in your veins really runs. The finish to this season should make all TRUE BLUE fans very proud to be a part of the BBN--even more proud than they would have been had the team come home with a championship--because that would make it easy to claim your Wildcat allegiance.
Congrats to all teams and fans on a fun March Madness--and thanks Kentucky schools for keeping the fun alive for us fans to the very end for three seasons in a row now!