To My Kentucky Wildcats,
The Big Blue Nation is a little blue this morning. A loss is never easy to take, and a season ending loss is that much harder. But please don’t think that because you lost we are disappointed in you. Are we disappointed that we didn’t win a national title? Sure. We really do want to win one every single year. But, while the loss stings, I’ve seen enough to know that given some time things will gain some perspective. In some ways they already have.
Last night was hard, but one game does not define a season. What you gave to us was so much greater than one win or loss. Greater even, than a National Title. What you gave us was a season that we will remember for a long time. What you gave us was a season filled with hope, expectations, and pride. And I have never been more proud of a team than I am of this one.
When I think about where this team--this program really--was at this time last year and where we ended up this year, I can’t help but be amazed. If you had told me back in March of last year that this team would have finished the year with only 3 losses, SEC regular season and tournament titles, and a trip to the Elite Eight, I would have told you that you were crazy. But you did all that. And more.
So, just let me say this one thing to you all. To Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, Orton, Liggins, Harris, Miller, Dodson, Stevenson, Harrelson, Hood, and Krebs:
What you did as a team for this state means more than any trophy ever could. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but one day you will understand. We all cheered with you, and we all hurt with you, because, in case you hadn’t figured it out by now, when you put on that Kentucky uniform and take the court you aren’t just playing for yourself, your team, or your coach. You are playing for all of us. The fans all around this state that have grown up with this team. The hundreds of kids that spend hours shooting baskets in their driveways and back yards on courts made of asphalt, concrete, and dirt with baskets nailed to light poles, garages, and the side of barns. You are playing for all of us who dreamed of taking the floor at Rupp with guys whose names now hang in the rafters there. We didn’t make it. But you did, and so every time you take the court, we are there with you. And what you did this year for us is something we will always remember. You brought back the swagger. You brought back the fun. And most of all you brought back the pride.
So, while it hurts right now, know that, in the great tradition of Kentucky Basketball History, this team will always hold a special place as the team that restored our program to its rightful place. We didn’t win it all this year, but the ship has been righted and we all know that one soon we will cut down the nets. Some of you may be there too. If you are, know that you have the entire Big Blue Nation with you. As we are now. As we always will be.
Thank you for a wonderful season.