Our weekend started out with some good old fashioned UL vs. UK smack talk amongst friends leading up to Friday’s matchup.
We endedwith a good old fashioned, highly athletic and dramatic basketball game and a CATS championship.
But the trip was much more than that, it was a lesson in defending stereotypes, teams and leadership styles of coaches.
Love him or hate his past, Calipari is doing his job as one heck of a basketball coach, and we , the Big Blue Nation expect nothing less.
As I learned all this week, we have a lot to be thankful for, but also, a lot to defend.
One Kansas fan told me ” oh, UK is so spoiled, you always win” my retort; You try being a Cats fan during football season in the SEC! We pay our dues!”
Another case in point; on Friday, I was lucky enough to watch the Cats vs. Cards matchup with someo college coaches and about 20 of their alum players. Legendary Colby College coach Dick Whitmore traveled to New Orleans amongst some of his players and what an enlightening day that was. We also had the head coach of Thomas College, TJ Maines, in our corner. Coach was gracious as he learned that behind this Cat s fan, wasn’t just a pretty face, but a sparring partner for basketball talk and commentary. Coach and the guys took me under their wing as they watched me in a panic to pull this off for the Cats.
For me, unless I have a cushy 15+ point lead, I know anything can and will happen with the Cardiac Cats. The hand wringing, the frantic back and forth plays all lead to a very nerve racking day. At the end, with the Cats on board for Monday’s game, all was right with the world.
And so the days and nights continued, everywhere were basketball fans, bellied up to the bars on Bourbon Street. The jovial Kansas / Kentucky rival talk was light, but most everyone , everywhere wanted to knowm what we thought of our Calipari.
For me, and my fellow traveling Cats fans, it’s not about Cal’s past. No. It’s all about his Now, and Future.
Frankly, Calipari takes the best kids he can recruit, and instead of looking for excuses, he grooms every player into the champion they are, right now. Cal takes a freshman kid, and says ” you have talent, let’s groom that into pro-level teamwork, and go forth and conquer.
Does he know his a-level players will leave for a chance at the NBA? Sure. But honestly, he can’t stop any kid with extreme talent (Davis) from living their dream and being the next Jordan or Shaq. Every hater I encountered had some lame argument about him “using the kids” or “spitting them out for His own gain” and even that UK is guIlty for using them.
Lets get one thing straight; The NCAA does not require any player to finish out a four year degree to be able to play ball ( or any other sport). If you have an opinion about keeping a kid from his dream of going pro- take it up with the NCAA. Furthermore, the NBA only requires a player to one year of collegiate play before recruiting to the pros. Both entities are entitled to their rules, and all we ( as coaches or fans ) can do is work within the confines of the establishment.
By not letting Davis or any other hugely talented star follow their God given path to stardom, is more selfish than any other “agenda” people smack talk. It’s like saying that my musically gifted child shouldn’t put out a record, or be the next Taylor Swift until she finished rudimentary music lessons at church.
Some self righteous fool at breakfast Monday stood on his soapbox and tried to tell me that what CaliparI does with his talent and team is as morally corrupt as the Penn State sexual misconduct and cover-ups of Sandusky.
Obviously, I shut that argument down, and I hope last nights game dug in a little deeper to his ego.
Calipari at the very least plays by the rules (NCAA &NBA) and grooms these young superstars before they go pro. They learn the best, from the best, and when it’s their time, they learn to fly.
UK and Cal are going to change the face of talent and teams going forward. No more excuses ” we lost all of our senior players, time to rebuild”. Nope, get ready kids, because it’s game on from the get-go.
And the Big Blue Nation will be behind the kids and the coaches all the way.