The aftermath of John Calipari’s Kentucky is overanalyzed comments finally drew a response from Julius Randle. He kept it short and sweet. He’s not worried about the scrutiny at all. There is only one thing he’s focused on.
It is what it is (on the scrutiny). I don’t care about that. It may or may not be true, but I’m playing basketball. I didn’t come here to be liked. I came here to win a championship.
Julius Randle may not realize it now, but his comments all but guaranteed that he will be liked by Kentucky fans. As far as the overanalyzed comments, that’s just Cal being Cal. Nothing much to see there. However, there is something to the expectations and passion of the Big Blue Nation. Chatter about an undefeated season coupled with a recruiting class predicted to surpass Michigan’s Fab Five and there’s only one way the hype could go, up.
For an incoming freshman this cannot be fully grasped until they arrive on campus and immerse themselves into the season. No amount of official or unofficial visits can prepare them for daily life as a Wildcat. That’s also why Cal lets players know that Kentucky is not for everyone and that they won’t be able to hide should they come to Kentucky.
Granted, the noises of unrealistic expectations can become loud, but they still belong to the vocal minority for the most part. Since the inception of the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship in 1939, Kentucky has claimed eight of the 75 championships, or one every nine years on average. After Adolph Rupp’s fourth title in 1958 the fifth title didn’t arrive until 1978. The sixth title didn’t come until 1996, after the seventh in 1998, the eighth didn’t come until 2012.
Most Kentucky fans reasonably expect the team to be in the hunt every year. Get to the tournament, get a good seed and then whatever happens happens. Kentucky’s wealth of regular season conference titles, SEC tournament titles, NCAA tournament appearances and Final Four trips are evidence that they have done just that more often than not.
Think about all of the talented players that have played for Kentucky. Think about all of the great players that came through and departed without winning a championship.
Think about some others who didn’t win a title: Sam Bowie, the late Mel Turpin, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Patrick Patterson to name a few. How does the fan base feel about these guys? They all still occupy fond spots in our hearts.
Julius Randle may end his season at Kentucky with a championship, he may not. Either way he will go down as another well-liked Wildcat.