After the near "hijacking" of the 2012-13 season, several Kentucky Wildcats vow to return

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Mar 15, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats team members watch the final moments of a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. The Commodores beat the Wildcats 64-48. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hasn’t been a year since the Kentucky Wildcats cut down the nets on a national title campaign and just like that, the 2012-13 season is over. And it came to a crashing, embarrassing, humiliating loss. A “one and done” crash and burn in Moon Township at the hands of Robert Morris. And just like that, the bid to repeat is over before the NCAA Tournament really gets started.

We all suspected that there were deep structural problems with these Wildcats and last night, John Calipari basically sais so with probably one of the strongest statements I have heard a coach utter about this team when he said:

The stuff I accepted from this team, the program almost got hijacked.”

Pretty heady stuff for a Kentucky fan to wrap their head around to be honest, and at this point, the loss is to raw for me to really dissect and write about without flaming a bunch of 17-18 year old kids, so I am holding back for now.  But the media has taken notice of Calipari’s comments so get used to articles like this:

Hijacked.

In 2013, it’s no longer a word you can use in a joke. And, trust me, I don’t think Kentucky coach John Calipari was joking. I don’t think anything could make him laugh right now.

Or maybe the season was just such a colossal train wreck that you have to laugh just to try to make yourself feel better. In any event, after Kentucky’s ignominious (word of the day) defeat at the hands of the Robert Morris Colonials in their 3000-plus seat gym in tiny Moon Township, Pennsylvania on the first day of the dreaded NIT, Coach Cal said, “The stuff I accepted from this team, the program almost got hijacked.”

Zoiks!

Here’s the game of college basketball’s level-best recruiter and one of its best coaches admitting that he let loose of the reigns while the horse and carriage were speeding around a dirt-and-gravel covered mountain road. That he handed over the keys to the convertible to a driver who likes to go 80 down spiral parking garage tunnels. That he put an alligator in charge of the poodles.

Wow! And…wow.

Trust me.  This is one of the calmer stories we are going to read over this team.  Good thing?  As March Madness gets underway  and the buzzer beaters and upsets start to pile up, no one will be writing about Kentucky anymore.  Maybe its better that this flame-out happened in Moon Township and in the NIT rather than the brighter stars of the NCAA Tournament.  Here is video of Calipari’s post game comments, as well as of Jarrod Polson and Archie Goodwin. 

As of right now, the 2013-14 season begins in earnest for Kentucky as Calipari is visiting a couple of juniors today.  Julius Randle will make his decision a bit later today as well.  And we will learn more about the NBA futures of the freshmen.  Personally, I don’t think that anyone has proven they are NBA worthy but if Nerlens Noel can get drafted in the top five, he should go.  The rest of the team discussed their futures last night and for the rest of “the five”, I am going to relay their comments.

Mar 9, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Archie Goodwin (10) before the game against the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

ARCHIE GOODWIN

ON DECIDING ABOUT COMING BACK: “I don’t know if it’s a question whether I’m going (to the NBA) or not. I don’t think I’m ready to go. It’s no reason why I think any of our guys should really leave. We should come back next year … and just try to do better than what we did this year. Because the expectations we had for ourselves this year, we didn’t meet them at all. We didn’t come close. So I think think that’s what says we should all come back.”

ON OTHER GUYS SAYING THEY’RE ALSO NOT READY FOR THE NBA: “If any of us were saying we think we should leave, then we’d all be delusional. None of us need to leave. So I just feel that’s going to help us in the long run because next year we have a strong group coming in and we’re going to continue to get better. … I think it’ll work out for us in the end, like it did last year. If you recall, the only one that left was Brandon Knight – and Enes Kanter, but he didn’t play. The other guys came back and they got a championship. Hopefully we can do the same thing with this group.”

 

Mar 9, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) shoots the ball before the game against the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN

ON GOODWIN SAYING YOUNG GUYS AREN’T READY FOR THE NBA: “I have no idea. I can’t speak for anybody else. I’m not. I feel like I left something out. Something’s missing. I’ve got this empty feeling in my gut and I want to fill it.”

ON WHETHER HE’S SAYING HE WILL, DEFINITIVELY, COME BACK TO UK: “It just depends what my situation is. I want to win a national championship. Could be next year. Could be the year after. But I never won a ring before, and I really want a ring before I leave college.”

ON WHETHER HE’LL TAKE A PEEK AT HIS NBA STOCK: “Absolutely. I’ve just gotta look out for me and my family. If it comes down to it, if my family needs me, then I’ll go. But if not, I’ll stay and get a couple more years of education and develop myself (into) more of an all-around basketball player.”

 

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