After the emotional turmoil in my season after that Card-megedon week of losses, I am beginning to think more clearly with Card history as my guidebook.
We just took two "Denny Crum" losses.
As anyone familiar with our history knows, Denny used to schedule difficult games early in the season, and we always took our lumps. He did it to toughen the team, humble them so their minds would be more open to the need for improvement, and because our Conference schedules back then were not like the Big East gauntlet we have faced since 2005. That is why Denny's teams seldom generated 12-0 starts, like a few of Pitino's teams have done.
Obviously, Denny's strategy worked. The fans accepted this logic-- in large part because of Denny's sheer brilliance in March. (He took us to a Final Four his FIRST year here, and to other ones every 2.5 years on the average through 1986. )
So...what am I saying here about this year's team? Here's my take thru less emotional lenses: 1) We have beaten some pretty decent teams this year during the streak. Ohio U. , Long Beach St. , and Vandy were no slouches. That alone showed some talent and grit--to keep the winning streak alive. Particularly in light of the injuries; 2) We finally played two top-notch, ranked teams. We lost but we had a chance to win in both games, and certainly were not blown out. Again-- a show of more talent and grit even in the losses.; 3) Now that we have taken our lumps, I guarantee the team's minds are more open to needing to improve. Maybe even Chane's mind and mouth will be tempered. We have been measured against some of the best, and come up lacking--but only at this moment. I believe that same talent and grit we have shown throughout will now serve us well in striving to improve for the future.It least it SHOULD.
We are in my mind a top 10-15 ranked team... with upside.... as Siva, Buckles, Van Treese, and Blackshear all get healthier, and as we now doubly focus on the areas we have now clearly know need improvement.
We lost both those games because of two things that have plagued us since the beginning of this season: Lack of rebounding and scoring droughts. Again, these can be improved as injuries hopefully minimize, and as full practices can become the norm.
We may never be a great rebounding team and possibly not even a great scoring team. But...if we can minimize those weaknesses, and build on our strengths we can be a legit top 5-10 ranked team. And if we can get to that point, believe me, anything can happen come NCAA tourney time. Remember history again: the 1980 squad was not favored to win the title even with Darrell, and certainly the 1986 team was a surprise winner.
We are not far away from putting us in a strong position to be a legit contender. And that's about all you can ever ask for, come time for the Dance...