Vaught’s note: Duane Whitaker is a Kentucky fan that writes for Kentucky Big Blue Nation — see the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UKBBN. Enjoy his perspective today on UK basketball.
By DUANE WHITAKER
Well last season was sure an experience! From all the preseason hype , the 40-0 shirts , the number one ranking to the crazy up and down regular season and all the way through one of the more memorable tournament runs in a long time. As for me I have to say during October , November and December I never once lost faith in this team. I was sure they were going to make a run. Then came January and February. Arkansas , LSU and South Carolina.
If I told you I never once lost faith during this stretch I’d be lying to you. The first Arkansas loss was easy, they are a great home team. LSU well we just weren’t ready to play that night. The second Arkansas loss followed by South Carolina and my bubble burst. It wasn’t that I lost faith in the team as much as I realized it was possible we just weren’t going to get there this year. Then came that magical tweak and the incredible post season run that ended all so close but not quite at number nine. What a year! I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Now here we are in the off season again. Never again will we let ourselves get so caught up in the new team coming in. Never will we yell we are hands down the best and destined to win the title again. No more 40-0 talk right? Then Willie Cauley-Stein said he was going to skip the draft and play his Junior year. What? WCS back again when he was just starting to show that he was growing into the potential we all knew he had. Wow well that made next year look a lot more fun. Still not going there are we? Then Marcus Lee decided he wasnt going anywhere. The freakishly athetic kid who just started to come into his own after Willies injury was also coming back. What had been a forgone conclusion a month earlier had turned to talk of him leaving to, but he quieted all that. Wow what a combo of shot blockers and with experience. They weren’t done either. Alex Poythress the human highlight reel albeit sometimes dissapearing power forward decided he needed one more year to prove to everyone his play in the tournament wasnt the exception but the rule instead. Wow Dakari Johnson too! The sure fire first round draft pick decided to make this the most experienced and deepest team UK has seen in years. Add in Trey Lyles and Karl Towns and this may be the deepest and most talented front line College Basketball has ever seen.
Now the BBN was starting to get excited. Starting to forget all the build up and hype the year before and the roller coaster that followed it. That’s OK. We will still be starting two freshman guards so lets keep our expectations tempered with reality for awhile. Yeah right said Andrew and Aaron. The twins are coming back too? Now this just became a full fledged party. Not only do we have the deepest and most talented front line in the history of College Basketball, (potentially lol).
Not only do we have the number two recruiting class in the country with some very uniquely talented players coming in, but we also have back our twins! Two potential NBA lottery picks next year? Two supremely talented , very focused EXPERIENCED at the highest level of NCAA basketball players that are back hell bent on proving the critics wrong, determined to show they are who we thought they were and absolutely locked in on winning the National Championship that barely slipped through there fingers just over a month ago.
So here we are again. Once again we are the preseason number one team. Once again the Big Blue Nation is positive that this is the team that will not be stopped in the pursuit of number nine! So what now? Now we go our separate ways going about our spring and summer activities. Trips to the beach, the pools , Some of us following the Cincinnati Reds or other baseball teams. Dreaming of what may be happening before our eyes with our UK Football team and the Stoops troops. Working our way toward the fall all the while in the back of our minds all the mind numbing possibilities of what this coming season could be like. Nine McDonalds All Americans on ONE team. Two juniors in our starting lineup? No Freshman starters for the first time in the Calipari era?
Who knows what concoctions coach is cooking up for this talented, deep and yes experienced team. All I know is it is the middle of spring and summer is almost here. What a great time of the year it is. Before we know it UK football will be taking its next step in the climb back to the top. Our first annual Big Blue Nation cook out scheduled for September will be here. Then the countdown to Big Blue Madness. Enjoy your summer Big Blue Nation , Enjoy it for all its worth then when the clock strikes midnight we all meet back here and resume the inevitable march toward number nine. I’ve always said number nine is not a matter of if but when. Now I say why not NOW?