Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Kentucky is 38 +Done

b-ballI fight it every basketball season.

It is a character trait of which I’m not very proud.

Every tenet of the life philosophies I try to follow contradicts the behavior, tells me I’d be a better person if I acted otherwise.

But, as an ardent Louisville Cardinal supporter . . . I simply can’t help myself, when it comes to consideration of my team’s arch rival.

I rooted for Wisconsin.

I rooted against Kentucky.

I, to be honest, am glad UK lost.

I feel for the Wildcat players. At least the ones, who were man enough to shake the hands of the victors after the loss. At least the ones, who didn’t petulantly and immaturely utter racial epitaphs under their breath about Badger players.

I feel for the BBN, whose loyalty is legendary. At least the ones, who, with some perspective, can cheer for teams to beat their rivals without the need to demean or denigrate.

So, mea culpa, that’s my perspective.

* * * * *

John Calipari is wrong.

After the game, he said this: “This season is historic. I just can’t believe anyone’s gonna do what these kids did, to get to this point unblemished.”

There was nothing historic about this season for Kentucky at all.

It was a good, no, it was a great season.

38-1 is a glossy damn record, a W/L to be proud of.

But, Kentucky is not only not the best team of all time. It is not even the best team this year. When the Great Scorer comes to call, other than in the heart of the BBN, this campaign shall be but an afterthought. Like that of Duke, which was considered one of the great team efforts, when it lost to U of L in ’86. Like the UNLV team upset by Duke. Like Indiana State, which fell in the final to Sparty. Like Wichita State, which UK ousted just last season.

Reality check. Last year’s Wildcat squad, woefully imperfect but ready when it mattered, advanced further in March than this year’s team.

The Wildcats did not throw in a clunker at the wrong time against Wisconsin. UK hit 48% of its shots, which was better than the Badgers. UK hit 60% from beyond the arc, which was better than the Badgers. UK hit 90% of its FTs, missing only one, which was better than the Badgers.

UK had five steals and four blocks, which was better than the Badgers’ one and two respectively. UK committed only 6 turnovers, four less than the Badgers.

Only on the boards, where Kentucky was thought to be invulnerable, did Wisconsin surprise, outrebounding UK by a dozen. Kentucky had only six offensive rebounds, five in the second half, and four of those on just two possessions.

Wisconsin, experienced, more mature, simply schooled Coach Cal’s Cats down the stretch.

Wisconsin, a team with a single Golden Arches All-American on the roster, for sure last night, and, to be honest, on the season, is a better basketball team. The Badgers 7 point win was far from a fluke, absolutely not an upset.

Kentucky outscored Bo Ryan’s guys, 16-4, to take that 60-56 lead.

After which the victors overcame two officiating mistakes, one egregious, to prevail. The offensive foul on Josh Gasser, wiping out a Badger trey, was a bad, but understandable call. That Trey Lyles wasn’t called for a flagrant foul, after intentionally slapping Gasser in the face, is inexcusable.1

But, when it mattered, Kentucky cracked. Three shot clock violations in a row. A couple of Harrison air balls. Throwing it into the stands on an inbounds play.

Wisconsin outscored Kentucky 15-4 to win the game.

* * * * *

The difference in the game? It seemed to me, other than, of course, the reality that the best team won the board battle and prevailed, was how Kentucky never adjusted its switching man to man.

The Badgers exploited mismatches all night. Early in the second half, they picked on Devin Booker. I thought the sharpshooter, who, by the way, wasn’t allowed to launch a three, was going to twist his head off, so often were bigger Badgers blowing by him, after a switch.

Wisconsin went to the line a dozen more times than the Cats, doubling their charity advantage, 18-9. It wasn’t an accident. It was a key component of Bo Ryan’s exquisite game plan.

* * * * *

Badgers vs. Blue Devils on Monday for the title.

Kentucky, like the rest of us, whose teams were ousted earlier in the tourney, will be at home watching.

— Seedy K

10 thoughts on “Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Kentucky is 38 +Done

  1. They got what they deserved. No one in control on the bench and sad, classless behavior after.

  2. Calipari is a paper tiger and really not much of a game coach. He wins with overwhelming talent. It was good to see an exceptional team and superior coach beat the Cats. Calipari and the model he’s fine-tuned at UK exemplifies everything that is troubling about D-I college basketball. And good riddance to the Harrison twins.

  3. I am next in line behind youregarding relishing BBN’s reality check. Calipari evidently never considered using an extended zone with all the length he had available to challenge the “3” yet deter the penetration. Coach K a long time man-to-man devotee, learned that in situations that was a valuable option. Defeat is difficult for all of us no matter how big, sore losing makes us small. Cal’s pre-game talk of if the kids just play up to their potential it will work out as long as he played his part; how true

  4. It was indeed a great night. It will be interesting to see if Ryan can bring them down to earth by tomorrow night. I think that will be hard. Duke is really good. My wife tells me she thinks we beat them and I can’t remember. If we did, I don’t know how. Would appreciate it if someone would enlighten me. As much as I hope I am wrong I think Duke will beat Wisconsin in a helluva game. Ryan will be up against a much better coach than Cal.

  5. Louisville beat Duke in 1986 for the national title. Louisville beat Duke in 2013 to win the Regional on the way to the championship. Duke beat Louisville in the Yum! this season.

  6. It’s all relative. Card fans are satisfied – we exceeded expectations. Cats fans are sad – they didn’t meet expectations. Both teams start from near scratch next season.

  7. I tuned out after the Cats came back to take the lead by 4 points and had the ball. Told everyone I was going outside to take some puffs off my $4.85 Dominican, but had no intention of coming back in until the game was over. I can’t tell you the euphoria that enveloped me when I walked back in saw everyone high-fiving and toasting. Everyone was so happy they never know I was gone. I taped the game at home and have watched the second half three times already. I screwed up and taped the “Kentucky Stream” which featured Buzz “The Turd” Baker and Rex “Shoplifter” Chapman. That made it all the sweeter.

  8. I, too, must admit, I taped the second half, because I felt myself falling asleep just before halftime. And did, awaking with ten minutes to go in the game. And, I, too, did watch the second half again Sunday morning. Not sure why I’m afflicted with such schadenfreude, but I certainly am. I’m not sure I can remember a time when Cardinal fans have been so happy about a UK loss. The social media phenomenon has ratcheted up the fan rivalry, I suppose.

    1. Schadenfreude > Hubris.

      Which these Cayuts had in spades. I can’t believe everyone, even the local sportswriters, found it inconceivable that they could lose given that they could have gone out on a last second shot from ND in the previous round. I mean, it’s great to think you’re going to win, but it’s overboard when it becomes a certainty that you can’t lose.

      Why do Cardinal fans seem so happy about this loss? I agree that social media ratchets up the rivalry, but my top reasons for relishing Big Blew It defeat is:

      1. Coach Cayul cranks the Hype Machine up to 11 — by saying things like “we’re everybody’s Superbowl” “In Kentucky there’s only one basketball program” “we’re going after UCLA’s record” “succeed and proceed”

      2. Getting tattoos declaring yourselves National Champions before the game is played is just wrong and it has to stop.

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