Random thoughts about Kentucky’s loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday in the SEC Champinship game…
1. While disappointed that the Cats didn’t close the deal and keep momentum going by beating Vandy, the loss isn’t the end of the world. As we all know, the 1996 Wildcats had a very similar path in the regular season-early season loss, undefeated SEC season, and then a loss to Mississippi State in the SEC finals. That team steamrolled to the NCAA tournament.
2. With that said, the loss is also a little troubling. Before the game, Coach Calipari talked about the team’s swagger turning into arrogance and wanting to prevent that. During all three games, Calipari railed against the team in ways unseen to this point in the season. Calipari and Darius Miller were clearly not on the same page against LSU and Florida. Something wasn’t right in any of the three games, and that’s cause for concern.
3. On the other hand, I would hate to be either Western Kentucky or Mississippi Valley State in Thursday’s first round of the NCAA. The team’s demeanor after the loss was clearly angry by all accounts, and I expect that to be taken out on whoever the Wildcats play in the first round.
4. UK wasn’t the only top team to take it on the chin during championship week. Syracuse, North Carolina, and Kansas all took losses in their conference tournament.
5. Losing to Vanderbilt is nothing to be ashamed of. The Commodores played the Wildcats tougher than any other league opponent and probably should have beaten the Cats in Nashville. Vanderbilt was a preseason top-10 team and underperformed during the regular season, but appear to have turned the corner. It’s possible the Commodores wanted this one more than the Cats, as tears were flowing – from Vanderbilt players – after the win.
6. Speaking of wanting it more, is it possible that the UK players were simply reflecting Calipari’s downplaying of the SEC Tournament? I get that Kentucky has one main goal which is to win title number eight, but I’m not sure how much you can expect from your team when the head coach constantly says how unimportant it is to win. Calipari may be technically correct-winning or losing wasn’t going to change UK’s seed up or down. But I have a major issue with Calipari’s vocal harping on how unimportant the conference tourney is.
We’ll be back with a preview of UK’s tournament game on Thursday after tomorrow’s games, which I will be attending in Dayton. Go Cats!go back