It doesn’t do any good for a coach in any sport to complain about his players who have little or no fight in them and who clearly don’t want to challenge opponents.
Evidence: Kentucky’s Wildcats when they went to Knoxville and came back only after experiencing the most humiliating defeat that any UK team has ever suffered.
Yes, the Cats were without their only top player, injured Nerlens Noel, when they allowed Tennessee to enjoy an 88-58 rout.
But some other things were missing besides fight from the boys in Blue.
Let us count the ways:
This Wildcat guard contingent is the weakest ever to take the hardwood. No one can penetrate consistently, mostly because they aren’t strong enough or quick enough.
The biggest of the Wildcats would have contributed as much sitting on the bench as he did in uniform and in the game.
How much did the Vols enjoy their Tennessee waltz over the Wildcats?
Maybe more than any Kentucky foe since Johnny Oldham’s Jim McDaniels-led Western Hilltoppers embarrassed Adolph Rupp and his Cats 107-83 in the 1971 NCAA Mideast Regional at Georgia.
I was the only media member that Rupp and his aide, Harry Lancaster, allowed in the Cats’ dressing room immediately after the Georgia debacle, and I can assure you that it was morgue-like.
Back to the present:
It is almost a sure thing that the Cats will not be invited to the Big Show. What if they get invited to the NIT? The first round will played in Lexington. Pressure will be on UK to play in Rupp Arena. That’s the only way a crowd will be assured.
Fans should boycott the NIT. It has never been an elite tournament since the NCAA went to a 64-team tournament.
And the future?
How will Calipari handle his roster next season when he will have more players than he can give scholarships? That is the big question.
The one Wildcat who commands respect of all UK fans is sharp-shooting forward Kyle Wiltjer. The slender sophomore doesn’t have the body to knock heads with bigger opponents, but he isn’t scared to battle in crowds for rebounds. And he is a scoring threat from long range.
Photos by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer