COLUMN: UK's great expectations

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By John Overby

Please don’t do it again, UK fans.

Don’t fall into the same old traps.

When Willie Cauley-Stein, the Harrisons, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress ALL returned for another season, the immediate reaction was extreme jubilation for every UK fan, which is completely called for.

What is uncalled for, though, are comments about booking trips to Indianapolis, sending next year’s trophy to Lexington or more hyperbolic talk of 40-0 (although, to be fair, the latter remark has been spewed by UK fans few and far between at this point).

Sure, the team boasts nine McDonald’s All-Americans (so does Duke, by the way); the team’s talent level won’t be a problem for John Calipari … as always. But having talent is not the only factor when it comes to winning, as UK fans found out two years ago with a first-round loss in the NIT.

They even found it out last month, as the team — a squad that had brought about that cursed 40-0 preseason talk itself — limped into the NCAA tournament with an unfathomable No. 8 seed.

If not for a magical run (the word magical is not used lightly in this context) to the national title game, UK extremists might still be calling for Cal’s head. That in and of itself should be enough for tempered expectations in Big Blue Nation.

A man who had led his team to three seasons of at least an Elite Eight appearance in four years (now four of five seasons) was on the proverbial hot seat among some fans?

Maybe melding these massive egos together year after year is harder than the average UK fan might care to believe. If getting a five-star point guard who shot 37 percent from the field last season to PASS THE BALL for the betterment of the team was such a monumental task, doesn’t it stand to reason that coercing most freshmen five-stars to alter their games is just as difficult?

Cal struck it lucky with super-mature Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and uber-talented Anthony Davis — among countless other knew-their-place role players — in 2012.

This team does not necessarily have those two dynamics.

UK did show maturity by “coming together” during its NCAA tournament run, but who is to say — now that the Cats’ two leading scorers and go-to offensive threats are gone — that lesson will stick with the coveted role of “The Guy” wide open? And not even the most extreme of the UK extremists can argue that this team has anyone nearly as talented as The Unibrow.

This isn’t to say that UK WON’T win the title. If everything comes together, they are most certainly talented enough to hang up banner No. 9. Not every team can say that. But to assume that it will happen is a major mistake.

In today’s NCAA, there’s no such thing as the “Sure Thing.”