It’s Been a Wild Ride, Cats

This weekend, my two best friends from high school are gallavanting around our hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. One is sending me the Platoon Pack of Kentucky Ale. The other offered to hunt down a Kentucky-related t-shirt I wanted. 

We don’t talk all the time, but in March I hear from them on the regular, as we are all UK fans, as people from Lexington are wont to be. This year, the excitement was obviously high, as the team continued an astounding undefeated streak, steamrolled through the SEC regular season and conference tournament, then made history with a 38-0 record..

So, while I am sad that the Cats aren’t going to go 40-0, I can’t be mad about 38-1 and a season full of memories and characters from players I have grown to love so very much.

Of course I am disappointed that Andrew Harrison couldn’t hide his frustrations at the postgame press conference and still needs to a learn a lesson about keeping mum around live mics, but I can understand the frustration and disappointment to feel as though this was his chance to exceed last season and it slipped through his fingers. But let’s not forget what he did against WVU.

Of course, I would love for the Harrisons to come back or even play all four years in an attempt to make four consecutive Final Fours (which would be pretty effing awesome), but I would not be surprised if one or both of them go. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the clutch three-pointers of Aaron Harrison, that stretch this season where it appeared Andrew had a haircut gone bad and was missing a piece of his head, and the fact that Aaron easily could have gone to the draft last year, but decided to stay, leaving this girl to believe he wasn’t going anywhere until his brother was going there with him so they can keep playing Nintendo together.

I am so grateful for the extra year of Willy Cauley-Stein too, who wanted to talk Smash Brothers and defense, said he was more of a raccoon than a lion, and Instagrams a lot about shoes, making him a man I can certainly get on board with. Plus he did this to Cincinnati.

And Karl-Anthony Towns, as anyone who read the ESPN article will know, is basically a 19 year old version of Mother Theresa. Not to mention every time he got the ball in the paint he just backed up, turned around, and made a bucket.

I think I’ll have another year of Marcus Lee stealthily visiting sick children, though I can’t guarantee he’ll keep up the same Target shopping schedule as my friend Jenny. Here’s hoping he gets a little more confident, because that guy is absolutely electric when he plays. C’mon Marcus, no one gets to wear that 00 after you leave, best make the most of it.

I hope for Devin Booker’s sake he comes back, because I think he is a streaky shooter who could use a little more discipline and maturing before heading pro. Plus, he had the Tweet of the tournament after the WVU game:

36 and won

Most of all, I hope that these guys keep bringing the joy and fun along with the victories. It was hard this season being in Vegas without my fellow Kentucky transplants around to watch games with for the first time in five years. But seeing the fun pictures of the Cats trying on goofy shades, wearing funny hats, and smiling and joking around made it plenty of fun.

As one of my friends texted me, the fact we’re going to have Alex Poythress back as a senior, Marcus Lee likely back as a junior, and maybe even retain one or two for the Dakari Johnson/Harrison Twins/Trey Lyles/Tyler Ulis contingent just makes me think I have to patiently wait until next season for more of the same.

As for Coach Cal, hate if you want to, but I see this guy and my other fav, Pete Carroll as one in the same. They go to these kids and say, “So you want to play in the NBA/NFL? I can help you do that. I have contacts, I know what you need to work on, and I can give you the national spotlight needed to make your dreams come true.” And yeah, one and dones aren’t very fun to me and I wish the rules were different, but we only had one of those last season and we may very well only have one of those this season, because it is just so difficult to say goodbye to something as unique and wonderful as being at the heart of Big Blue Nation. Even as someone at the margins of it, I can tell you that the beer-sending and t-shirt hunting friends are hard to come by, and people I will value like sisters for the rest of my life.

So thanks for an awesome season, fellas. Don’t ever forget that 38-1 is still an accomplishment, and what you did off the court speaks just as much as the amazing feats you accomplished on it.