It’s happy fun time in the Bluegrass, as the Cats prevailed over a game Jayhawks squad 67-59. Congrats to both teams on a great season. Enjoy yourselves safely.
I remember 1998 like the back of my hand (why no one remembers the front of their hand, I have no idea). It was the year Tubby Smith took the helm of the Wildcats from the then beloved Rick Pitino and led the “Comeback Cats” to a title in his first season in Lexington.
I was 15 at the time and had just went through my parents’ divorce. Despite the fact that their split probably saved both their lives, it was a traumatic experience for a kid already dealing with the awkwardness of Freshman year. Like Alanis, I needed something to cling to.
Enter the aforementioned Wildcats.
The 1998 team was far from dominant. In fact, they had a knack for falling behind early and coming back to win late, hence the “Comeback Cats” moniker (we’re pretty literal here). Anyway, something about that team’s run to the title absorbed my attention as sports had never done before. I found myself living and dying, screaming and crying with every made or missed shot. All of it culminated in the happiest ending of all, a National Championship. Little did I know, but my UK fan experience had peaked already.
It’s been 14 years since the Kentucky Wildcats last won an NCAA title. In a fanbase like UK’s, those might as well be dog years.
Over these long years, the passion and expectation my glorious first experience with the Wildcats generated has never dwindled. I’ve spent 14 years living and dying with every shot, as each year ended with a tournament loss including one in the NIT.
With each passing season, my disappointment and subsequent rage has grown stronger and more pathetic. I’ve screamed at Rajon Rondo. I’ve murdered Billy Gillispie in my mind. I’ve broken a remote (or two or seven) over falters and failures that have all culminated in this… Our year.
With the Wildcats in the title game for the first time since I was 15, this has to be the year they close the deal.
Unlike those come-from-behind Cats (I’m just sick of typing it), this year’s UK team has been a spectacle of dominance. With a roster stacked with NBA players and the Player of the Year in Anthony Davis, Kentucky has spent the better part of the year ranked #1 in the country. A title for this team isn’t just possible, it’s expected.
As the day of the title game has finally arrived, the usual combination of dread and excitement is coursing through my blood stream. All the talking heads are picking us to win. Vegas has the Cats favored by 6.5 over a team they’ve beaten once already. People are openly discussing whether this is one of the greatest teams of all time.
All this on our side, and I still won’t believe it until I see it. 14 years is a long time for a young(ish) adult to live with yearly disappointment. It won’t be over until it’s over.
If I step outside myself, I have to think that Kentucky beats Kansas tonight. I have to think that this is their year.
Then I hear that familiar voice of caution chasten me, “Unless it isn’t.”
In honor of tonight’s Kansas versus Kentucky match-up, I give you the Bill Self Choking Procedures chart.
[Via TAUNTR.com, H/T to nocureforcrazy]
We here at the EJSIC like to be on the cutting edge of trends before they hit the mainstream. With that in mind, we give you Anthony Davis-ing…
Billy Gillispie, the former Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach and current Texas Tech Red Raiders coach, jump-started future recruiting for his current program by subscribing to MiddleSchoolElite.com, a website dedicated to ranking basketball players in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades.
BCG, as supporters affectionately call the coach, made national headlines while coaching in Lexington by securing the commitment of Thousand Oaks, California eighth grader Michael Avery. Now stationed in Lubbock, Texas, Gillispie decided to make early relationships with potential future high school stars.
A source close to the coach said Gillispie knows he doesn’t have the Kentucky brand behind him anymore and he wants to build early relationships that will pay off in five or six years, when the kids become juniors in high school.
The source continued by stating: “Billy just wants what’s best for the kids. It’s nothin’ serious right now, just a friendly hello letter of interest with a little bit about the school and Billy himself. Just starting early, that’s all.”
Gillispie’s recruitment of Avery while at Kentucky received national scrutiny, although it was not a violation of NCAA rules.
The NCAA has since limited contact between coaches and recruits who are not yet juniors in high school. However, the source insists, BCG is within the confines of the rules.
“We like to call it the gray area,” said the source who chose to remain anonymous. “You oughta’ see Billy’s face though. It just lights up when he finds a 6’5″ seventh grader. He takes a sip of his bourbon, and then starts pecking away at an e-mail or letter.”
“It’s kinda scary how excited he gets at times. He just gets this look in his eye, and you know he wants the kid. But it’s a good kinda look. It’s not a Michael Jackson kinda look.”
MiddleSchoolElite.com ranks the young classes (2016-2018 currently) on various criteria including their accomplishments, team success, individual talent, and long range potential. The site combines these factors into a secret “formula.”
“You know,” our source continued, “it’s just something new. If we can figure out which fifth grader in the country will be the best in seven years, we’re way ahead of the curve. We’ll already have a relationship with the family, we’ll be trusted. Trust is the key to recruiting. Earn the trust of the player, the family, the AAU coach, and the runner, then you get the kid. Seven years is a long time to build up trust.”
A quick survey of other major college coaches revealed some interest in the site, but BCG remains a lone wolf in the next universe of recruiting for now.
I’m Bob Knight and I’m here to tell you how the South won the Civil War.
- The guy with two last names will return for another year in Chapel Hill. With Zeller and Henson also returning things are looking up for UNC fans. Here’s hoping UK returns at least a couple of their 4 possible draft entrants and there’s a real debate about who’s #1 for 2011-12.
- Reds’ pitcher Mike Leake reportedly tried to steal some t-shirts from a Macy’s. It’s a male Winona Ryder, everyone.
- Bob Knight has resorted to making shit up in order to get in digs at Kentucky. UK AD Mitch Barnhart was not amused.
- Gene Chizik got booed at the NASCAR race in Talledega over the weekend. I guess that’s Tide country.
- If you don’t like Facebook, you don’t like your friends. And what kind of terrible person doesn’t like friends? Even Hitler had friends.
- The best resume ever. Hire this guy now.
- Some lucky bastich won a Foo Fighters concert… in his garage. Awesome.