If you’ve ever read APIAS.net then you probably figured out that we have an affinity for sports in the South. And, it just so happens that our collective favorite basketball teams both play in the SEC. What better reason than to write a full-on SEC Tournament preview. We’ll give a quick rundown of the Quarterfinal matchups, and then the teams the winners will face. Hopefully, at the end, one of us will be so moved to conclude it all and we’ll give you who we think will win.
If I’m a Kentucky fan, and believe me, I’m not, and I’m sitting here looking at yet another year of watching basketball on Thursday in Catlanta, I’m feeling pretty good. After watching the regurgitation that was offense in the well-documented G-W home loss and the absolute lack of team play at Houston, I’m freakin’ stoked to be here, locked into the dance, after watching the team jell like they have from January on.
So here I sit, all jacked up on the newfound ’08 blue juice, about to watch Georgia and Ole Miss battle it out for a chance to play in my home tournament against arguably the hottest 5 guys in the conference. My mind starts to wander back a few months. I was driving home from work listening to local asshole sports personalities (you know who I mean, Lexington) discuss the possibility that this team is the worst team in the history of Kentucky basketball. I even heard callers-in lament the cheating days of Sutton, “Hey, at least we were winning.”
Now, here in my 13th row Georgia Dome seat, I’m wondering if this just might by my favorite UK Hoops squad of all time. Here are 2 fantastic guards that stuck it out when times got tough. Two leaders who seemingly developed crucial management skills on the fly. A coach who never lost poise. A group of second-stringers who bought into a system and executed it flawlessly to reel off 11 out of 13 down the stretch.
I’m watching Sundiata Gaines single-handedly keep his Georgia team in this quarterfinal matchup. I’m watching a once highly-ranked Ole Miss squad fight like devils to keep their slim dancing hopes alive. I watch Felton wondering what the hell went wrong on his clean-up-and-build plan. I watch the gleam off Andy Kennedy’s head and realize that yes, in fact, I pull harder for this group of leftovers than I have for any Kentucky team since the days of Farmer.
As two busted, beaten-down, and tired teams scrap for one more game… as Gaines rips-off a mid-court steal and lays it in for the win, I realize that neither of these teams can take down what the boys in Blue have built this year. This is our tournament. And this tournament is about heart.
And as Kentucky knocks off Georgia and prepares to avenge the January loss to Jamont Gordon and Stansbury’s Bulldogs, it hits me.
Wait a minute! I’m a Kentucky fan. I’m better than this. I tell you about it all the time. No matter what happens in the Tourney, I’ll see you next year, SEC. And I’ll act like this year never happened.