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Depression. Anger. Confusion. Fear. These are the feelings that have been increasingly taking up my time after each Kentucky basketball game. Kentucky fans are quickly trying to schedule an appointment with their doctors to get on some antidepressants and anxiety medicine as this year’s season is quickly plummeting into a dark abyss. OK, maybe that is a little melodramatic, but in all seriousness this season’s success or failure will be determined in the next few games.
In an attempt to make my wife happy I think we need to look at my feelings I described earlier regarding our beloved Wildcats. First, depression. I don’t know about you, but when Kentucky loses my mood is horrible and I’ve been told I act like an idiot at times. Watching UK play, and I use that word loosely, Feb. 3 was like watching one of those TV shows with nothing but car wrecks. You can’t help but keep watching, but wish you didn’t have to. The team continues to look increasingly lost on the court and manages to make every opponent look like the best defensive team in America. Of course, it helps that no one other than Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are real threats to score consistently. And believe me, everyone in the SEC has gotten that memo and will continue to double-team both of those fellows. Some other players have to step up and score if this team is going to have any chance to finish the season strong.
Anger. If this continues I will have to contact Jack Nicholson to host some “Anger Management” classes in the Bluegrass State. Losing is never fun and being a Kentucky fan I believe we take it worse than others, but sometimes losses happen. My biggest problem is that this team seems to start each game like they just took a sleeping pill prior to warm-ups. There has been an increasing lack of fire or heart that this team displays. When things start going bad, they seem to get deflated and their play suffers. They managed to find a little spark against Mississippi State when they fought back to get within three points, but overall the passion is not there. Evidently after the game, there was some energy as the team held a closed door meeting where according to Patterson, "People said what they felt like they wanted to say. We exchanged words in a heart to heart. We said things that needed to be said." I hope it works.
Confusion. I don’t know about you, but at times I wonder out loud if there are any offensive plays being ran. This team struggles to run any sort of offense and against Mississippi State, it seemed like the only game plan was to throw the ball inside to Patterson, no matter how many guys were guarding him. When that didn’t work, we saw chaos. Players passing up wide-open shots and just throwing the ball around the perimeter with no obvious plan on how to score. Part of the problem is the lack of a point guard who can penetrate and dish to open players or score.
Another source of confusion is why Darius Miller didn’t reenter the game after halftime until just over 5 minutes had passed. He was one player who actually made some shots in the first half scoring seven points. Also, I will never understand why Coach Gillispie refuses to try a different starting lineup, when clearly the current one isn’t working. Try starting Galloway again, that seemed to give the team a spark early in games previously in the year. Yes, I know coach played 10 players in the game, but timing is also important.
Fear. I think the elephant in the room for me is the fear that this team may not make the NCAA tournament in March without winning the SEC Tournament. A friend of mine told me recently that I was being too negative, but folks it is a real possibility if the team doesn’t turn things around, and fast. They cannot afford many more losses in a conference that is getting less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. If UK doesn’t make the Big Dance, boy will people laugh and poke fun at us.
I hope Coach Gillispie and the boys have plans on how to turn this around, but honestly I’m not overly confident. The Cats have a week off to prepare for the SEC East Division leading Florida Gators. Unfortunately, I think the Gators will be too much for the Cats and will win going away 84-70.