A little perspective on the season and what’s ahead
It hurts, it still hurts this morning. The fact that Kentucky came up just one shot short of another Final Four is going to bother Big Blue Nation for the next few weeks. But with time, that pain will fade away because BBN knows that it is only a matter of time until they are back in the Final Four. Unfortunately for some of the players on this team that chance will never come. This was their shot to get there and it didn’t happen. That is what hurts the most from our perspective, because we really loved this team and their personality. Reid Travis deserved to get to play the Final Four in his hometown. PJ Washington played his butt off to get the Cats there, despite being hampered by a very painful foot injury. Jonny David became the only player to spend four years at Kentucky without going to a Final Four. Keldon Johnson has been the funnest player in the locker room that we have covered and he would have been a star at the Final Four. Their are a multitude of other reasons that make falling a step short of a major milestone hurts for this specific team. The hope would be that several current players get another crack at the Final Four next season, but we have to wait and see exactly who returns to Lexington.
From the fans perspective, yesterday was a sad day that ended with some excitement. John Calipari and the University of Kentucky have agreed to a lifetime contract that will reportedly keep Cal in Lexington until he retires. In his first 10 years, Cal has taken Kentucky to 7 Elite Eights, 4 Final Fours and won a national championship. If Cal spends another 10 year at Kentucky, it would all but guarantee at least one more national championship and several more Final Fours. He would cement himself as the greatest coach not named Adolph Rupp, in Kentucky history. The day that Cal is not able to do his job to his high standards is the day he will retire. That means that Kentucky will get the very best from him until he hangs it up. No coach is better at being ahead of the curve in terms of recruiting and the ever changing nature of it. If players are able to enter the draft straight from highschool in a couple years, it will be Cal that figures out how to get the top players that go to college. There is literally no one that is better suited to be the coach of Kentucky than John Calipari.
The immediate future is also very bright for Kentucky. The Cats already have the second ranked recruiting class coming to Lexington, but that could improve over the next month. On top of that I think there will be at least four or five players that return from the current roster. It is also extremely likely that Kentucky adds another grad-transfer player to give the Cats a veteran player inside. That does not mean they will be a starter like Reid Travis, but they could be a rotation player off the bench that gives the team depth and experience. When all is said and done, I think that this roster will be one that is very capable of winning a national title. A little patience will be required as we wait to see exactly what the roster will be. The wait will be worth it in my opinion.
For the time being, I would recommend that fans respect the current players as they work through their decision process. Many of them will declare for the draft and participate in the NBA combine, but that will not mean they are all gone. It is a process that seems to wear on some fans at times, but it is not their future at stake. Take a deep breath and make yourself fully aware that next season’s roster will probably not be set until sometime in June. The good thing about that is that it keeps us talking about Kentucky basketball for at least two more months. That is fitting, because Kentucky basketball never stops.