Look, I appreciate it. I really do. It means a lot to me that so many people are so concerned about my mental and emotional health after Kentucky’s win last night to capture the NCAA title, but the national attempt to make me, personally, feel better is a bit much.
I should start by saying that I’m doing alright. I hate that UK won, but I’ll get over it (read: complain about it for one reason or another whenever doing so suits me for the rest of time). It drives me nuts that a bunch of one and dones were able to win the whole thing. And it drives me even more nuts that the things that bug me the most about this UK team are tiny things that will sound like sour grapes.
For example, every time I watched Davis play it bugged the hell out of me that he was able to lower his arms over people in the post, Tom Pritchard-style, and never get called for a foul. I’ve seen players get called for a foul with their arms at an 89 degree angle, but Davis puts his arms, routinely, at 50 degrees and makes all kinds of contact and doesn’t get called for a foul.
See, that seems petty, doesn’t it?
It also bugs me that Calipari doesn’t win this title or get to last year’s Final Four without some very happy accidents well out of his control. Last year it was the sudden appearance of a senior leader who Cal put so far down the bench his junior year that Harrelson took to twitter to express his displeasure at one point. This year Jones definitely and Miller possibly, don’t stick around if there isn’t a NBA lock out. No lock out, no championship. And let’s not talk about their unbelievable injury luck as compared to IU, UNC, MSU, etc.
See, sour grapes.
But it still bugs me.
Also, I just don’t want to give Calipari any credit at all. I don’t like what he does. I don’t like that he does it and then acts like he’s the victim of some horrible set of circumstances that lead him to have high turnover rates. I don’t like that he’s had two Final Four’s vacated and that doesn’t make him a pariah. None of that is to say that he isn’t a good coach. People who say all he can do is recruit don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s part of what’s so maddening about him. He doesn’t have to do things the way he does to be successful. He’s good enough to succeed in other ways. He just chooses to run his programs the way he does.
But most of all, I hate that I was wrong. I really thought you couldn’t win the whole thing with a team built the way he builds teams. But he did. It took a lot players on other teams getting hurt and a 35-37 free throw shooting performance that that team would never be able to replicate to make it happen, but every tournament run has some good fortune in it. This year Kentucky got that good fortune.
So, I’ve been in better moods as it relates to college basketball. But this morning I see multiple sources, Andy Katz being one of them, who are picking IU as the preseason number 1 team for next season.
And, like I said, I appreciate the effort.
And here’s where I invoke the glory of “having said that.” Which means that you can say whatever you want and then, by simply saying, “having said that” you can completely contradict everything you just said.
It’s nice that the national media cares enough to try and lift my spirits, but a preseason ranking the day after the title game is meaningless. We still don’t know who is staying in school and who is going pro, both for IU and for the rest of the country. We also don’t know where some of the best recruits are going (I’m going out on a limb and saying UK for at least a couple of them). If every team next year looks exactly as they look today, plus the recruits we already know about, minus the guys on UK who we all assume are bolting, then yeah, I guess IU could be the number one team, but that’s a ridiculous set of givens. So, yeah, it’s a nice try to make me feel better, but an April 3rd preseason ranking is dopey.
Having said that, this is the first time we’ve been preseason top 5 in at least a decade. I think it’s possible that following the 2002 title run we might have started there, but I don’t know for sure. My guess is 1993 was the last time we were mentioned this highly, and rightfully so, because 1993 was the last time we were great. This season we were good to very good. We outperformed expectations and I had more fun watching IU basketball than I’ve had in my entire adult life. Next year we could be great again. And as stupid as an April 3rd preseason ranking is, it matters because it means we are back to the level that IU basketball should always be at. Not good and fighting for the fourth spot in the Big Ten. Great and fighting for a number 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
So, thanks, national media. You’ve managed to take the edge off what happened last night. The next six months are going to be be really long waiting for the #1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers to take the court, but we’ve already waited 20 years, what’s 6 more months.