Posted on: March 9, 2008 2:14 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2008 5:02 pm
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Congratulations, Kentucky Wildcats.
You will be included in the next Projecting the Field when I update late Sunday/early Monday, and let me go ahead and apologize for being among the last to come around and reward you for your turnaround. I doubted you for a while because I couldn't get past how terrible you were in November, December and early January. Then you got better. But I still doubted you because your best player (Patrick Patterson) went down with a season-ending injury. That was reasonable of me, I think. But even if you disagree it doesn't matter anymore, because the way you've responded minus Patterson has been convincing enough to ensure we are now in total agreement, that playing Tennessee tight before winning at South Carolina and beating Florida to improve to 18-11 overall and -- this is the important part -- 12-4 in the SEC is sufficient for inclusion to the NCAA tournament.
Honestly, I'm not sure how you got this thing turned around.
But make no mistake, you got this thing turned around.
So congratulations, Kentucky Wildcats.
Ashley Judd should be proud.
Posted on: February 29, 2008 5:28 pm
Remember what I wrote about Kentucky being on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament?
I'd like to take it all back, if you don't mind.
Because it's a longshot at best (a hopeless proposition at worst) now that Patrick Patterson is out with a stress fracture in his left ankle. The injury means Kentucky will play the rest of the season -- including Sunday at Tennessee -- without its second-leading scorer and leading rebounder. And if you're wondering how that team might do you should probably look at the box score from the Wildcats' game at Houston two months ago, when they had to play without Patterson.
Final score: Houston 83, Kentucky 69.
And that's not a good Houston team, mind you.
That's a Houston team whose next best win is a victory over a UTEP team that is just 7-6 in Conference USA. So if that Houston team can beat Kentucky sans Patterson by 14 points it's scary to think what a Tennessee team that is ranked No. 1 in the country might do to the Wildcats.
But that's not the point I'm trying to make.
The point I'm trying to make is that this is just awful -- for Patterson as a player, Billy Gillispie as a coach, Kentucky as a program and UK fans as a group. It's usually difficult to find sympathy for powerhouses, and in college basketball there is no greater powerhouse than the folks that call Rupp Arena home. But this development is a kick to the stomach that comes just when UK fans' stomachs were starting to settle after that unsettling 7-9 start. The NCAA Tournament seemed within reach 24 hours ago, seemed like a realistic proposition. But Patterson's injury has ripped away any realistic hope that Kentucky can finish where it wants to finish, and that seems grossly unfair ... even for a powerhouse.