We got out of the game plan that got us to this point early and couldn’t overcome the hole that we had dug for ourselves. Everyone thought that this might be the year that we hung number eight in the rafters. Instead, we’ll settle for number fourteen.
These guys worked as hard as any team in recent memory and played far above both their talent level and their depth should have allowed. We beat the top team in the tournament as well as a longtime rival and the team that knocked us out last year, in addition to winning the SEC championship. That’s a pretty damn good run.
The season was like a roller coaster with significant highs, in wins over Louisville and Notre Dame, and crushing lows, like the permanent ineligibility ruling of Enes Kanter and the many close road losses in conference play.
No one expected us to make it to the Final Four.
We overcame the doubters and proved that we have a coach that can do more than just recruit and players who could care less about the NBA while they have K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y across their chests.
I know it’s not realistic, but I hope that everybody on the team that is eligible to return next season does so, especially Terrence Jones. I think Terrence could see a Derrick Williams like explosion if he came back. He’d be our unquestioned number one rebounding option and, if he put the necessary body work in over the summer, I could see him pulling down 12 to 15 boards a game. Along with the added size from Anthony Davis, Jones could flourish.
The same goes for Knight. If both of these guys returned, they’d be giving the freshmen next year something that they missed out on: talented guys to learn behind and the prospect of the bench as a motivator and teacher.
Even if they do leave, next year’s Final Four run won’t be a surprise like this year’s, it’ll be an expectation. There’s a lot to look forward to and get excited about in Big Blue Nation. We lost this year, but these guys gave us a lot to be happy about. We have to recognize that and be proud of what they accomplished.
The offseason begins today. This is where UK fans flourish. Let’s build off of the excitement for the team this season to an absolute fever pitch for the guys next year. There’s just 194 days until Big Blue Madness.