Something has happened over the past few days, and I would like to address it. It is something that has rarely been witnessed in or around Kentucky. It is the fact that Kentucky fans seem to be taking the loss to West Virginia unbelievably well. Some might even say that the BBN has shown class and grace in the face of defeat.
The TGR and other UK fans I associate myself with are some of the most fiercely competitive people on the face of the earth. I have seen golf clubs wrapped around trees after a bad shot, I have seen beers thrown after a bad play in a Rook game, and I have seen tears roll off a chin after an Elite 8 loss. I have seen remote controls broken after missed free throws in an exhibition game, I have seen baseball caps thrown on the playing floor in a 3rd and 4th grade game after a bad call, and I have seen coaches run out of town after a long run of winning seasons. Saying that, the perspective and appreciation the Big Blue nation is showing this year’s cats and its Elite 8 loss is nothing less than remarkable.
Over the past few days I have been asked countless times how I am taking the loss, my response, I am devastated. 9 out of 10 times, the person who asked me would respond with, “yeah, but we had such a great year”, or “yeah, but think about how we felt last year at this time”. If you have lived here for any extended period of time, you know these are things that are rarely uttered, and are never said this soon after the final game of the year.
Could the BBN be buying into coach Cal’s philosophy of “Enjoying the ride”? The thought that the final destination is not the most important part of the trip; it is the events that take place on the way to get there. In the past, that would have been dismissed as a “loser’s mentality”, could the BBN be becoming soft?
Remember, it was 4 short years ago that we ran a coach out of town, one reason being that Elite 8’s were not good enough. What has changed? Could it be that the ‘hope’ is back? We aren’t worried that we were not in the Final Four this year; we will have a shot every year.
Is it that we are just happy to be back in the conversation? I know the BBN loved being mentioned in the national media this year as much as anything. It was fun to have ESPN and every other media outlet talking UK basketball at every available opportunity.
Could it be that we actually did, enjoy the ride? Big Cuz and john wall will go down as two of the most beloved players in UK history, and they will have only been on campus for basically 8 months. The BBN drank up the hype and expectations of this squad like it has never done before for any other team. We could not get enough, but we seemed to know it was going to be for a limited time only, and we accepted that.
The nation seemed to be enjoying the fact that Patrick, Ramon, Perry and mark were able to experience winning, more than we were enjoying the winning ourselves. What a beautiful thing, indeed.
For all the criticism that we, the Big Blue Nation, receives for our fanaticism, I thought it should be pointed out when we show class. Being a good loser is not the easiest thing to be, and it is not something we want to get accustomed to being. We are taking this loss well, for a number of reasons. The most important one, in my opinion, is that we are not only GOING to be back, due to this team, we are ALREADY back. Go cats!