Column: Fans should be proud of Calipari’s first season

For the last few days, things have been rough.

People are walking around campus in dark clothes, hoods up and eyes down. The only thing cutting through the solemnnity is the wind whipping around Patterson Office Tower.

There’s no joy or celebration, even though spring is here and Keeneland opens on Friday. It’s like a notable figure suddenly died and, like in the ancient Roman and Greek days, we are having a week of mourning to hail the tragic loss.

So who passed? Achilles? Odysseus? Another great warrior or king?

That’s the only explantation I can think of in regards to the all black attire, sad faces and general heaviness that has plagued UK’s campus for the last several days.

Wait? The men’s basketball team lost on Saturday, you say?

They made it to the Elite Eight, didn’t they? First time in five years for that, right?

Well then why is everyone so sad?

I’m kind of surprised Lexington didn’t throw a parade.

It’s time to change back into the spring colors, soak in the sun and enjoy what’s happened in the last year. After five years of downfall, the Cats are back. Blue is back.

Let’s take a quick look at some milestones UK achieved this year alone:

-The first to 2,000 wins.

-Winning its 44th regular season conference title and its 26th conference tournament title.

-Reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in five years

-Having two freshmen (John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins) named All-Americans, a feat no other school has ever accomplished.

That doesn’t even touch the many exciting games, Big Blue Madness, the John Wall dance (and shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody! Sorry, got carried away), and watching this team excel against all odds breaking records and carving a path that will never be forgotten.

So, remind me, why is everyone so sad again? No national title? Ah, I see. But thinking on it, was this year really the year to go for banner No. 8?

Think about it: Tubby Smith won No. 7 in his first year on the job. For the remaining 10 years he coached at UK, he could never top what he did in his first year. How do you top a national title? You can’t.

Smith eventually left because he achieved his top goal in his first year. Years 2-10 were always in that shadow. It’s an awful way to have to coach.

Do you want the same problem with John Calipari?

So everyone, listen up. Remove the funeral garb. Spend the next couple of weeks walking around campus with a smile on your face. Head over to the Johnson Center and hope the UK basketball team has wandered over to shoot hoops with the commonfolk (like they did on Tuesday) or hang around the blue courts between the Craft Center and Wildcat Lodge.

Enjoy Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and the rest. It may be the last time you see these UK legends.

Buy up jerseys, posters, books, whatever you can get your hands on. You’ll regret not doing so in a few years when the reality of this team’s purpose sets it.
Because this year isn’t a one-time thing. It’s not like UK has a bad coach who got lucky with a few kids and made a run.

UK has real talent, both on the sidelines and on the court. And if there is a mass exodus of players from this year’s squad, you can rest assured that a whole new batch of superstar freshmen will take their place.

The Elite Eight isn’t going to be a possibility every year, it’s going to be a destination. And a national title will come in due time.

Players come and go. That’s why fans buy jerseys and posters to remember them.

“There’s always next year” is a familiar saying for many fans who have teams with subpar performance year in and year out.

The difference is, UK fans can say “there’s always next year” and know that could mean a national title.

That’s something to smile about, isn’t it?

Kenny Colston is a journalism senior. E-mail kcolston@kykernel.com.

Voltiger says:

I’ve watched Cal coach my Tigers and against my Vols the past 8+ years and you will see he is a great recruiter and a mediocre bench coach at best. His last year at Memphis was his best coaching job to date. I’m not a Cal basher, don’t fault a man for chasing his dreams but the way he did it leaves little to be desired. Nevertheless he did some good things for the community and that can’t be forgotten. You Cat fans would have had a NCAA championship if Josh Pastner was coaching that team given it ranks as one of the best if not the best freshman class ever assembled in college basketball.

RickJames says:

These guys can not chew gum and dribble at the same time. Hell. I had to teach them how to tie their sneakers. How many elite 8s did Joe Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino, and Tubby Smith have on the watch? Does not amount to nil unless you have the Championship. History shows Rupp could not get past UCLA. You can be proud all you want go hang a banner in Rupp Arena.

patrick says:

you forgot to mention the non-basketball, humanity attributes instilled in these future millionaires…raising money for Haiti (taking time to do something that is only in your best interest as humanitarians), and the countless stories of CATS lifting the spirits of teens at restaurants and on and on…

these aren’t just basketball players, they are future ambassadors of UK and how the UK family GIVES BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITY AND THEIR WORLD…on top of all the other stuff they must do to be responsible student athletes….

James L. says:

Am I the only one in the Commonwealth that is concerned that 6 kids off this team think they are going pro? Patterson, Wall and Cousins I can see. Bledsoe is not ready in my opinion, but could see how he is drafted, but sits the bench. Meeks was much better than Bledsoe. But Orton and now Dodson are simply a joke. Is Calipari advising these two to go pro in his good mind? Does anyone remember Randolph Morris and his huge ego problem?
Kentucky will never recruit a kid like Chuck Hayes, John Pelphrey or Tayshawn Prince in the future, who lives and dies KY basketball, because they are not one and dones. Seems like to me Calipari will have to recruit one and dones forever. We wont even have a Senior night for a few years after next year. Ask Michigan State what works. They have been to the Final Four 6 out of the last 12 years without an entire team of one and dones. Matter of fact, every team in this years Final Four has seniors who play, no one and dones. I do not want to be a AAU pro team. We are Kentucky!
No I agree we had a great year, but seeing Orton and Dodson, 1 kid that never started and 1 who started maybe 3 times going pro is a huge joke. Its a sad joke too.

Eugene says:

I am glad the year was different than what we have had !I also am very disapointed in where we finished!We have 5 NBA prospects on the team but couldn`t win it? Something is wrong with that!

Brian Megerle says:

Outstanding article!!! Put the season in the right perspective and cherrish what time you have left with the players that brought UK back to where it belongs!!

Katbluefan says:

This season was really great after the past few years. Looks like we are getting back to the good old days. Go Cal, Go Big Blue

Brad says:

I am profoundly happy with this season! This team and Cal have given us some renewed energy, enthusiasm, and excitement. That SEC championship game stands with some of the greatest moments in my entire fan lifetime. GO CATS! And GO CAL!!!