(Gardner) Webb of deception

Traveling east on I-64 with Brian Bennett on our way to Morgantown, W.Va., and something strange just plopped down on the windshield.

I think it might have been a piece of the sky.

I’m anxious to see if the sun actually has come up in Lexington.

Already this morning, the email is humming, so here’s a quick Q&A.

Q: Is this the worst UK loss ever?

A: Judging from fan reaction, I think it’s a tie — with every other loss in the program’s history. Actually, I’m trying to think of a game in recent memory in which UK looked worse against a lower-tier opponent. . . . Let me get back to you on that one.

Q: What’s the difference between this and Steve Kragthorpe’s early-season problems? I expect to see Gillispie taken to task just as hard.

A: Well, there are some differences. Kragthorpe had a national player of the year candidate and several others expected to play in the NFL, along with a top-10 preseason ranking and a significant number of returnees from a team that won the Big East Conference and the Orange Bowl. The only UK player with an immediate NBA future — Randolph Morris — took it. This is a UK team that was unimpressive last season. And, surprise, it still is. Anyway, while I’d agree there are some similarities in storyline, there is little similarity in situation.

Q: What the —- is the matter with UK?

A: I think a major lesson was learned last night — for both players and fans. If anyone was laboring under the delusion that just because this is Kentucky it can’t lose to lower-tier teams, can’t miss the NCAA Tournament, can’t see the wheels fall off, they’ve learned differently now. I’ve got to say I’m surprised. The one thing I expected from UK was intensity. I didn’t expect great execution or blinding talent, but I did expect fanatical intensity. It wasn’t there.

Q: Is Gillispie practicing them too hard? Are the hard workouts on game day too much?

A: You can’t blame the hard game-day workouts. Rick Pitino did the same thing for eight years, and seemed to get decent results. It may take some getting used to for the players, but it’s not unheard of in college basketball.

Q: What now?

A: I know, players have to earn playing time. But I think, given the difficulty of the schedule coming and the response of some of the Cats’ seniors so far, it might not be such a bad thing if the freshmen were earning more of it, just to get ready for SEC play. Alex Legion seems to have all the qualities this team needs, not to mention the talent. Patrick Patterson goes without saying. Mike Williams can help. They aren’t the answer. But they’d might as well get used to the fire now.

There should be some perspective to this game. It’s extremely early. In researching my column on Gillispie’s first game, I was struck that no UK coach before him had coached his first game before Nov. 20. To have a game this early in November under a new coach is to risk what just happened — though you’d have thought they still could handle Gardiner Webb.

Missing the games in New York will hurt, but not much (except for those fans who have already shelled out money to go.) UK has a tough enough schedule as it is, and is facing major tests all through December and early January.

The biggest bruise of this loss is to the program’s ego. But to be honest, that might not necessarily be a bad thing at this point. And I don’t know that two losses in New York would’ve made the traveling fans any happier.

Unfinished business: I still haven’t thought of a worse-looking home loss for the Wildcats. I’ll accept nominees.


8 thoughts on “(Gardner) Webb of deception

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