UK's style of play viewed as less fun

Maybe I don't watch enough Kentucky games on TV and just wasn't prepared for what I heard. But CBS-TV's Craig Bolerjack and Billy Packer made points that only reinforced what I've been hearing over and over from coaches.

After spending all day Friday covering two high school football state championship games and then going into the office for four hours Saturday morning, I was content to lay on the couch and watch the Kentucky-North Carolina basketball game.

Maybe I don't watch enough Kentucky games on TV and just wasn't prepared for what I heard. But CBS-TV's Craig Bolerjack and Billy Packer made points that only reinforced what I've been hearing over and over from coaches.

First, the announcers noted how the game just was not as much "fun" as the Ohio State-North Carolina game had been three days earlier. They were right, too. I watched that game and it was fun with the way both teams went up and down the court.

Second, they praised Kentucky's strategy for keeping "the game close" by slowing the pace. Of course, they also both said they never felt Kentucky was in position to win.

Finally, they noted how North Carolina's players and fans were both "down" after the big game over Ohio State. Since when is it not a big game if Kentucky comes to town?

I don't think the announcers were being critical, either. Instead, they were merely being honest, and the truth should hurt the Kentucky basketball program.

The Cats haven't been to the Final Four since 1998. They lost 13 games last year. They dropped out of the top 25 last year and won't be back for several weeks at best this year.

What's happened? Will Kentucky be playing just to make the NCAA Tournament again this year? Losing at North Carolina Saturday was no disgrace. Other good teams will lose there as well. But what made the loss so painful was the blow it delivered to Kentucky's national image. The perception continues to spread that Kentucky basketball just isn't fun any more -- and Saturday's play and analysis only added to that theory.


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