That’s how it was at UCLA. Coach (Ben) Howland would chart our goals in the preseason and it would be: Win all of our games, win the Pac-10 and win the national title.“They don’t hang any banners at Pauley Pavilion except national championships. ”
If a UK fan had said this in the Almost Era of Tubby Smith coached UK basketball, he’d have been ridiculed as unrealistic. Someone please tell me why UCLA is better than UK. Why should UK have lessor goals than UCLA. If you want to win, you’ve got to expect to win. Period. Goals and Expectations go hand in hand. A goal is nothing more than the end toward which effort is directed. The expectation is that those goals will be met. No one sets goals with the expectation of failure. Again, we set goals with the expectation of meeting or exceeding them. Successful people do this. Successful programs do this. History has shown us that UK is a successful program. So was it unfair that UK fans expected Smith to reach the Final Four and earn a National Championship sometime between 1999 and 2007. I don’t think so. Fans should have the same expectations as the team itself. Especially since, Smith was being paid with the goal and therefore the expectation of Final Fours and Championships in mind. Smith knew what was expected of him. He wasn’t an innocent lamb being led to slaughter by the wolves.
The goal at UK should be to win every game. The goal should be to win the SEC and the NCAA Tournaments. UK should expect to win every game and so should it’s fans. I don’t care what the fans of the Minnesota coach have to say about it, Smith was not getting it done. It’s obvious that he didn’t think he could get it done as well. That’s why he fled to Minnesota.
If you lose a game, is that a failure. Yes. If you don’t win a championship does it mean that the season was a complete failure. No. You failed to reach your goal. But no team is going to win a championship every year. Not even the LA Druglord backed Wizard of Westwood could win the National Championship every year. But the seasons should be based upon building up to making a championship run. Momentum from the end of one season should build over into and support the next until all of that effort culminates in a National Championship. That was never the case under the past coach. Smith was a talent yoke and a momentum killer. The beginning of each season started as if past season had never occurred.
We now have a coach who sets the goals of winning each game and winning the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. He understands these goals and has the hunger to chase them and accomplish them. The Gillispie era has started off rocky. Realistically, what did UK fans think would happen this year. Gillispie is starting off with 5 good to great athletes. Meeks and Patterson are going to be special at UK. I see both of them becoming All Americas by the end of their year. Patterson should be SEC Frosh of the Year in my opinion. Biased though it may be. Crawford and Bradley are good guards who are inconsistent. But they are skilled. We all hope that D Jasper will come out and lead this team. I think he will be a good one. But we won’t know until he plays. That’s 4 guards and 1 PF. Not exactly a complete team. But fairly representative of what the Minnesota coach recruited during his tenure at UK. Always holes being filled by out of position, uncomfortable talent. The rest of the team is either inexperienced or role players that should not be starters for UK. Porter has no business starting for UK. Mark Coury should not be starting any game at UK. Harris got spot minutes for half of last year. Stevenson barely played at all. Carter has been injured his whole career. The rest are your typical incomplete Tubby recruits and walk-ons. But that’s the hand that Gillispie was dealt by the inefficient recruiting of Smith. The team is also suffering from a Tubby Smith induced hangover of low expectations and soft discipline. UK has been a soft team since the recruits of Rick Pitino graduated or were drafted. To be sure, you’ve had Bogans and Hayes, but you’ve also had Shagari, Camara and J.P. Blevins–all starters at UK for one reason or another during the Smith era. Gillispie is not going to accept soft players and a lack of discipline. And he shouldn’t. UK fans should accept this. UK fans should welcome this.
Instead, I hear crying and complaining that Gillispie is “too hard.” He may not be “caring enough” for UK. He practices too much. Next some moron is going to complain because Gillispie doesn’t go to church enough. I’m tired of losing. The losing was due to Smith. Smith is gone now. I was tired of Ten Loss Tubby and his yearly “this is unacceptable” proclamations followed by zero change and more of the same. It will take time for Gillispie to install his system and to get players in who reflect his system. When he does, he will win and win big. The “Almost Era” is over. It’s going to take time for the Gillispie Era to come into full swing. It’s time for UK fans to sit down and have some patience and let Gillispie get to work.
In the next few years, UK will once again be a giant on the scene. Give Coach Gillispie time and he will get us there.