When Wildcat Times Get Rocky

This season hasn't exactly turned out the way UK basketball fans were expecting.

Tonight's program.
Coach Cal's first three years at Kentucky brought an amazing upward trajectory of post-conference play. He took our rock-bottom team and turned us into Elite Eight contenders. Then Final Four. Then National Champs. It was pretty amazing. And, here we stood in the autumn of 2012. Reigning champions. The top recruiting class in the country. And then, we faltered a bit. At times, watching this UK team play reminded me of that phrase from Jerry Maguire: "There's genius everywhere, but until they turn pro, it's like popcorn in the pan. Some pop... some don't."

Then, we gelled. We started to play like a team. We had hope for the post-season.We saw chest bumps and assists and friendly banter. We saw swagger, and we saw some quality wins.  We saw the most staggering statistic of all -- Nerlens Noel was blocking as many shots as the great Anthony Davis did last year. And then, last week in Florida, the unthinkable happened.

I can't revisit it. Y'all know what happened. 

And, it seems some members of the Big Blue Nation are acting a little ugly about it. Saturday's Tennessee game was met with low attendance and some really nasty statements on the Twitter.  This behavior from the same people who proudly scooped up National Champs gear a few months ago. The same people who jubilantly watched the ESPN special in which Nerlens and his hair revealed their plans to become a Wildcat.

There are going to be games over the next few weeks that are hard to watch. You know what's harder? There's an 18 year-old kid who's not only facing months of unbelievable pain, but crippling uncertainty about his once-guaranteed future. There are a whole team full of kids in their late teens and early twenties whom we revered as warriors and gods a few weeks ago. And if we don't show them the same support when times are rocky, then we aren't very good people. End of story.

Get off your ass. Head down to Rupp Saturday for Game Day. I don't care how much potential Mizzou has. ESPN wants to spin a yarn about disillusioned UK fans. Prove them wrong. Prove the Courier Journal wrong. Do it for Nerlens. And for Willie Cauley-Stein, who recently said "It can be whatever you want it to be... I mean, a team is more than one player." And for Julius Mays, who rallied his teammates by saying "If you are gonna use Nerlens as an excuse not to fight, then don't come out and play with us."

Go to the game tonight. I'll be there. In head-to-toe blue. It's Coach O's birthday, and we all owe it to him, too. He became a Globetrotter after surviving a bullet to the skull. If he's not a hero, I don't know who is.
Go 'Cats!!