Blog Entry

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

Posted on: March 4, 2012 2:55 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 3:10 pm
Kentucky became the first team in nine years to go undefeated in a major conference. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

We're in a rush, an anxious crouch, to see what Kentucky does when it matters most, but let's stop and realize the accomplishment this team of young Cats just completed. Going undefeated in major-conference play is like spotting a white leopard in the wild. It's extremely rare and normally fleeting; no matter who arrives on campus in Lexington next year, I'd be willing to wager with you that a 16-0 SEC isn't happening for John Calipari's team in 2013. And probably not too soon thereafter.

But it happened this year, once Kentucky won on the road at Florida, 74-59 Sunday afternoon. Not only did UK become the first team to sweep its league in a Big Six conference since 2003, when Kentucky was naturally the last squad to pull it off, the Wildcats also won 30 games in the regular season for the first time in program history. What a feat. This team is truly scary good (have you seen the way opposing players' bodies curdle when they find themselves suddenly in the paint on offense?), better on offense than it is on defense, in fact, and yet it will only be judged by a national title.

That's a bit unfair, but comes with the types of teams Calipari recruits. His message, that fan base and the college basketball universe look to Kentucky with adoration, hate, expectation, confusion and skepticism. It all squeezes into equal parts cynical and pragmatic forecasting of a national title, whether that was supposed to come two years ago, last year, this year. If it's going to happen, it has to be this year, right? If anything, getting this undefeated season in a worse-than-expected SEC only reinforces that.

Yet when UK did this nine years ago, it was felled by this newcomer named Dwyane Wade. Running the table in the SEC may prove to be nothing compared to the unrelenting heat lamp in March. That heat is inescapable and covers more earth than Anthony Davis. I think about that, then know -- it could be so much more stressful than this. Kentucky is one Christian Watford shot away from pressure as heavy as a Jupiter moon. The Wildcats should be thankful. John Calipari is.

That loss negated an undefeated season. I think this team could handle it, but it's so much better off not having to. It was the early season loss that will have no impact on the team's ultimate seeding and only a positive impact on its ability to keep distracting questions, like ones about undefeated seasons, away.

So, at least for today and the next few days, let's not judge or speculate what Kentucky will be. Instead, can we applaud an increasingly rare achievement in college basketball? College football sees undefeated conference runs every year. Perfection in league play in this sport has only proven to be tougher as basketball's become bigger, quicker, more talented and more popular. Every year is a season happening in a convection oven when you don Kentucky threads. That elusive ultimate trophy remains that for Calipari -- elusive. But this, what Kentucky did with one of the youngest and certainly the most talented team in the country, so far compares to 16-0 in the SEC in Calipari's tenure in Lexington.

Bigger things can come. A national championship could be won. And that success could be repeated. This one, 16-0, it's very likely the 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats just finalized something that Calipari won't ever achieve again.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:01 pm

HATERS copying hate speech from a previous column

Haven't I seen some of these opinions before. I think some of you HATERS are just copying over your hate speech from a previous column. OK if that's how you want to play dig this.  If you luv BB then you luv watching talented players perform however, if schools, colleges and universities like IU, DUKE, UNC, UCONN, 'CUSE, KANSAS, etc, are inviting players to attend for free and perform for us so they can get paid w/ tickets sales and the like, then Hi School senoirs are going to take advantage of their offers and make a stop for a year or 4 or 3 or whatever. The NBA graduation rate is about 32 % and has never changed. Anyone buying tickets, game wear, or other NCAABB related products, contibutes their support to this system and that includes NBA tickets, game wear and products sales too. You cant luv BB and not be part of the fundamental problem with the system that supports the way these young players make choices whether you agree with their choices or not, supporting their choice to move on to the money game and the NBA is the goal of most of the talented players that we care to watch and cheer for so whos gonna be the first to say they are not part of the system ?
   Furthermore, How is a coach of high caliber that is held in high regard amongst his peers and the BB community supposed to express respect of NCAABB students / players that have EARNED respect on the court. How should Knight respond to players that have proven and continue to prove themselves to be worthy of the highest respect amongst their peers. Does he have an ethical liability to be accountable and fair to all students / players deserving his praise. Seeing as how he is compensated by ESPN for his opinions, whom among ESPN analysts / commentators cannot be trusted to account for their lack of conscientious omission of their duty to report and comment in a fair and balanced manner. If opinion is the object and product of Knight's efforts, as a professional, and withholding it is his choice, then Anthony Davis can only assume that he has not yet earned the respect from Knight that all others, that love the game, have for his efforts. Knight does not earn our respect for his own efforts if he cannot equitably perform his contractual obligation. Knight's performance is in question and his supervisor should make note of it and act on it in a fair and balanced fashion when the time is appropriate.




Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:37 pm

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

BTW - the 2003 wasn't a loss due to DWade as much as the injury that befell Keith Bogans.  I could have gone off on him that night!

That 2003 team - should have won it all.  Injuries happen.  You have to keep rolling with the punches though.

Since: Nov 7, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:56 pm

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

What are you getting at? Wall had the highest GPA on the team, Cousins passed every credit he took. Kentucky is tied for the Highest APR in the SEC. Every coach/program would be an NBA feeder team if they could recruit like calipari. Incentives?? If you mean getting the chance and spotlight to shine for NBA scouts twice a week, yeah. Any incentives you could speculate would be peanuts compared to what Wall got as a NBA rookie with Washington, Knight for the Pistons and Davis next year. What clollege incentive would exceed 10 Million plus?

Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:38 pm

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

This team has been something special full of chemistry you don't see very often. We can all hope now for a national title. This has been a a great season. Its hard to think that anyone can beat them. History has not been kind to the overall "1 seed" the last few years.  They held Florida to just 4 points with 9 minutes to go in the game. That's pretty incredible. GO CATS!!!!!! 

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:10 pm

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

Hey, I always had great respect for Knight! He has always disliked UK, regardless of who the coach was! He lets his personal views get in the way of FACTUAL data, same as you do !! Get the FACTS.. I have read Knight's book (autobio), very interesting. You should read it !!

Since: Mar 2, 2012
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:54 am

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

Let's list some facts about Slick Calipari. He left two schools behind to deal with probation. Bob Knight, for who and what he is, is a respected member of the college coaching fraternity. He knows more coaches and their practices than you or I could ever dream about. It's known he doesn't appreciate "Cash Cal". He can't be jealous. It's probably because he knows Calipari is running a minor league NBA program with incentives built in. The term student-athlete isn't a discussion here. I wonder how many classes Wall and Cousins attended? And don't use university officials as a stopgap. We've seen how they can operate.

Since: Mar 26, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:37 am

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

Why is Terrence Jones doing the 'loose butthole'  sign?

Maybe he's saying "Florida's second half defense was so loose butthole."

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:10 am

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

For once, I agree with Rick Pitino, you guys are too jealous of UK.Tongue out

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 8:41 am

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

Love them or hate UK, you must give them & Calipari the due RESPECT they deserve, based on their performance so far this year.
To Calipari haters, learn the FACTS regarding the UMASS/Mem NCAA santions. As for him leaving UK, it will never happen, until he retires. He's been to the NBA, and performed similar to Pitino. Both these guys are great college coaches, do not belong in the NBA.

As for the players, they have "meshed"  together and demonstrated that TEAM PLAY is the most important aspect in winning games. That is a reflection on the character & influence of Calipari and his method of player selection. All the players are great young men, with great abilities who have a strong DESIRE to excel in both basketball and life in general. We UK fans, are BLESSED to have both (Calipari & Players), here to continue our wonderful program !!!!!!

With that said, I hope we do well in the tourney, We should be able to handle UNC,DUKE & possible Kansas. I worry about Syracuse and Mich St.
If we meet them, it will be a heck of a game, right down to the wire. Davis & Jones will be the determining factor in our victories. (I hope) 

Since: Mar 14, 2007
Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:16 am

Kentucky completes undefeated SEC campaign

You sound angry. Why? Did UK beat you into the ground too?

Who is this new "enforcement cop"? The same one that has tried to find something on Cal and has failed every time? That one? You know, the one that is still bitter that TJ didn't go to UW? That one? Well, you can do the same thing he has had to do. GET OVER IT!!!!   

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