Hi. How bout that ride in? I don't know about you, but once that was over I was just like
Thing is, I don't, nor have I ever, cared about going undefeated. I've never been in the "they have to lose a game" camp, either, but I've never seen the benefit of putting so much pressure on these guys for the Georgia game. It seems counterproductive. But this Undefeatables group is different--in part, I think, because there are just so many of them, and the pressure splits that many more ways. There's more, though; this group almost needs to feel that pressure, like it activates their Neo brains and they start seeing the Matrix. So, yeah, I never cared about going undefeated until I felt it, ever so briefly, start to slip away. And then I was like
Let's talk about it.
I've been thinking this for a few weeks, but I haven't heard anyone else talk about it, so I want to start with it (and remember, I like to get the negative out of the way first so we can then focus solely on the positive).
Devin Booker has lost his shot, and that makes me happy.
I'm old enough to remember when there weren't cell phones, channel 54 was called The History Channel (instead of History) and Devin Booker couldn't miss. The year was 2015. It was a mild January, surely about to take an early bow and make way for an Indian Spring (not a thing), and Devin Booker was doing things with a triple-barreled shotgun that would make Elmer Fudd blush. I don't recall the exact stats, but off the top of my head, I think he had hit about 5000 of the 50 threes he took that month. So what's that, okay, let me do this math right here. If you have 5000 widgets, and you make two columns. That's Widget A and Widget B. Plus interest. Present value of a dollar, ceteris paribus, so like about 818000%. Give or take an opportunity cost.
Then, poof. It was gone. Yeah, he's still making some, but sometimes he's like nah, I'll airball it this time. And it was the best thing that could've happened. Nobody not named Steph Curry should be shooting the ball that consistently as a college freshman. To me, it's like when someone has a 20-game hitting streak in baseball. Unless that person is Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams, chances are, when they come back to earth, they're going to land with a thud; and when they do, it's going to take them a while to pick themselves back up. Sports are ebby and flowy. Batting .300 doesn't mean you get three hits every ten at-bats, like a robot. There'll be peaks and valleys. For every 4-5 game there will be 0-4, and those 0-4 games tend to lead to other 0-4 games, and then you have to readjust. It's a good thing because once you readjust, and the 4-5 games start coming back, they tend to spawn in the same fashion as the 0-4 games until the cycle runs out of momentum and starts again.
Devin Booker is in an 0-4 cycle right now. In the big leagues they call it a "slump." You've heard this term before--"slump?" It basically means that you're not doing so swell right now, slugger, but keep your chin up, and keep working; you'll get your swing and your three-pointer back.
Sometimes these slumps can be stubborn, and more drastic measures must be taken to shake them. I think we're approaching that time for Devin Booker. The most tried and true way that I know of to end a slump is to, um, give back. Do some charity work. Make someone feel good about themselves.
Devin, if you're reading this, go ahead, make a cuddly lady's night. I guarantee that if you do, your <*ahem*> stroke will be sofa king smooth all tourney long. And that's a POWER PROMISE.
Seriously, though, Devin Booker is too good of a shooter for this slump to last, and the fact that Kentucky has played so well despite his being off from beyond the arc (and don't twist this--he's still been excellent scoring in other ways, playing active defense and not letting one facet of his game affect another) is yet another testament to how amazingly diverse this group is. They're not just deep, they're diverse; they can beat you in so many ways. This is what we can do. We can Willie you in the face, we can POWERKAT you in the chest, we can Twin you in the mouth, we can Booker you in the stomach and we can Lyles you in the living room. Oh, and we can Ulis your kneepcaps when you're not looking. So just because your stomach is safe right now, don't assume it always will be.
Andrew Harrison will kill you.
I wrote yesterday about the team as a whole starting to see the Matrix, but if you had to single out one person whose rising tide has lifted all the Kentucky ships the last few weeks, you couldn't because you'd have to name two. But I already started writing this about Andrew, so I'll get to you in a minute, POWERKAT.
Over the last couple weeks Andrew Harrison has been sofa king whoa. Andrew? More like Amazing Harrison. Did you catch that little stepback jumper in the first half? A more efficient website than mine would have DVR'd the game to find the highlight for you, but Jesus Christ. If that's--if he's gonna be doing that as a thing now and knocking down threes the way he has been, just stop. Cancel Christmas. Kitchen's closed. My favorite thing about Andrew though is the gum-chewing. He's like Michael Keaton at the Oscars. Just chewing gum, being awesome. Yeah. Like, other teams see his ascension, his coolness, his toughness and they must just be like
And then Andrew's like
David Tennant will always be my doctor, but that's so GD perfect.
Back in August I wrote the following about Karl-Anthony Towns:
Karl-Anthony Towns has inspired me. You see, I'm one of those unfortunate people whose parents decided to call by their middle name. This is child abuse. From Kindergarten to my last class at UK (MKT 450, shouts to Dr. Fred Morgan) I had to clarify that no, I'm not Martin Kaufman. I'm Eric Kaufman. But I swear to Cawood that if we win Nine I'll happily begin calling myself Martin-Eric Kaufman. Because POWERKAT.
The thing about POWERKAT is his toughness. Yeah, he's ridiculously skilled for a big man his age, drawing comparisons to young Tim Duncan and young DeMarcus Cousins, both of which are apropos because he's kind of a blend of the two. He's fundamentally sound, has outstanding footwork and he will be the soul of this team.
And I was right, and now you know it. POWERKAT scored 17 points in the second half tonight. He has a Gilchristian will about him, and listen to me. No, really: listen. MKG is my guy. On my list of guys it goes like this:
- Jamal Mashburn
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
- Tony Delk
- So forth
- So on
That's not--Mashburn is a childhood hero. He's the correct answer to the question who's your favorite player (if you were born between, like, 78-84). It's not subjective. It's Mashburn. MKG leapfrogged TONY FREAKING DELK on my list when I was 30 years old. So when I say POWERKAT has a Gilchristian will about him, I don't say it flippantly. I don't think he's the leader MKG was (MKG was Captain America to AD's Thor/Iron Man), but he has a tenacity. It's a feely thing like you just sense it, the way Rick Pitino senses ejaculation: instantly.
The way he's developing (remember when he couldn't hit that hook shot? Remember when we thought maybe he wasn't that tough? Barely), you can take your Jahlil Okafor and give me POWERKAT all day long, NBA scouts. This guy is special.
What did I cover, like three or four things? That's good, I think. What I'll leave you with, though, is this: this team just isn't interested in losing. It's like Losing pulled down this team's pants when this team was on the playground ten years ago, and every time Losing shows its stupid face, this team curls up its fists and clenches its jaws. Fuck you, Losing. Not today. Today, the Undefeatables march on.