First things first… I just wanted to say that I really wanted to prove the national media folks wrong with a title year from this crew. To take 7 freshmen and 2 sophomores (neither of whom were starting after the WCS injury) to a title would have emphatically ended the anti-Cal camp’s claim’s that Calipari’s approach cannot work. However, when I’m really honest with myself it becomes clear that these people will never see the truth no matter what Cal does, and I just need to learn and embrace that. Taking this crew to the championship game… and in truth simply getting them to the final four, should be enough to disprove every one of the Cal haters’ arguments. This method works, every coach in the country would take these players if they could get them, and its not just Cal who does this anyway *cough cough* your beloved angel Coach K *cough cough* But Cal is simply the best recruiter in the nation and the best at what he does. So it makes it easy for national media hacks [Charles Pierce, Pat Forde, Dan Dakich, Pete Thamel, Dana O’Neil] to single him and his players out as a scourge, devastating college basketball like the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse. Somehow they take innocent kids who are just making sensible, logical career decisions (Bill Gates dropped out of college and became a billionaire, I graduated and spend all my time writing blogs that noone except my girlfriend and her mom reads… sooooo…) and somehow claim that Cal is exploiting these kids like some kind of pimp. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cal HELPS these kids do what they want to do, and they all love him for it.
BUT ANYWAY not only did Cal and his “one and done devils” pull off one of the most spectacular turn arounds and tournament runs I’ve ever seen, they did it by knocking off “Do It The Right Way” Golden Boys left and right. First and foremost was that undefeated Wichita State team, but they also knocked off Wisconsin just to make it to the title game. This strategy works, and when its on its game its much better than “doing it the right way” Also, how is this still a debate for the national media hacks? Didn’t Cal put this to bed in 2012 when HE WON A TITLE WITH FRESHMEN?!?! I will never begin to understand how these people can hold a grudge so firmly that they are willing to publicly embarrass themselves with these anti-Cal arguments. The Cal hate is wrong. It makes no sense and is completely illogical. If people admit they are being irrational and emotional when they direct their anger and ire toward Calipari, I’ll accept it. Theres no way I can change an irrational person’s mind. But when they claim to be using reason and common sense… I become infuriated. So after this run, I’m going to have to come to grips with the fact that what I believe is right regardless of what these irrational morons think.
What happens when you bring NBA talent to the college level? You get success. Thats true for coaches (Kevin Ollie) and players (this entire Kentucky squad). They’re not evil because they’re better at what they’re trying to do, and the people who try to say that are the real ones at fault. Just because you bring NBA talent to a college level doesn’t make you a monster. Cal isn’t trying to spit in the face of the game, he’s just trying to help kids reach their dreams, while they help him reach his and the Kentucky fans as a collective reach ours. He’s not malicious and those kids are not demons. No more than Kevin Ollie (who will be in the NBA in the next couple years) is. Just being better than your peers is not evil. I really will never understand why people don’t accept this viewpoint.
For Kentucky fans, then, I just want to say that we’re living in a Golden Age of Kentucky basketball. I as a fan and maybe all Kentucky fans in general need to sit back and enjoy this. This has already been said ad naseum, but in 5 years at Kentucky we have seen 1 title, 2 title game appearances, 3 final fours, and an elite 8. Regardless of whether or not everyone wants to admit it, Cal and UK have been a perfect match and this has been a stellar run. I hope we can have another 5 years with identical results, even if that means another NIT loss (it won’t). Championships are hard to come by. Theres a reason why in 70 years of college basketball noone has won more than 11 titles. What Cal did in 5 would make him the greatest of all time if stretched over his entire career.
This is really important to remember because Kentucky fans get really upset with the one and done era too. They feel cheated that they don’t get to become truly attached to the players. For a lot of them this makes them lash out and become overly critical of players (this year it was the Harrisons in particular, most unfairly. Last year it was Archie Goodwin, the year before that it was Marquis Teague) They want a whole 4 year career out of these kids in the few months they get to see them play. This is unfair, but its the way things are going to be as long as we’re bringing the nation’s best talent to Kentucky (and as long as the NBA refuses to change their rule) so I just hope that Kentucky fans (most of whom already do this but there are the outliers) can take a step back, focus on what an amazing ride these guys just took us on, and what an amazing ride Cal has had us on for the last 5 years. I hope we can sit back, come together as a community to ignore the national hatred, and simply savor whatever time we have left with Cal and this era of complete dominance by Kentucky.