The nightmare after Christmas

Dear Santa,

I haven’t asked you for anything in a long, long time, pretty sure it was 1990. I was 7, and it had something to do with Micro Machines. After a few years of naughtiness, I decided it wasn’t worth wasting your time with my requests. Then came the teen years, and I was way too cool to ask some adult for anything. Plus, you always came way too early. I mean, what teenager is going to get up before 11 a.m. just to get some stupid sweater? 

That said, I have been as good as I possibly could this year, and I have just one request — please let Louisville beat Kentucky this year. Please. I, and all the other nice UofL fans, deserve it. Think of all we have had to endure! 

While the Cards have had tremendous success by any reasonable standard, we have lost three in a row and seven of the last eight games against the Cats, including two NCAA tournament games. They have all been excruciatingly close, only once ending with a double-digit deficit.

The one redeeming characteristic of late in this rivalry has been that the outcome has generally reflected my expectations leading into these games. In other words, my hopes weren’t completely crushed. And as depressing as this realization is, the one game UofL won came in the course of the 2012-2013 National Championship year, when they were unquestionably the better team. One win in eight tries. One!

On the contrary, the one time I somewhat expected the Cards to win was the subsequent year in the NCAA round of 16 in Indianapolis. We were poised to become the predominant program in the state. Defending champs, and peaking at the right time, we felt the inevitability of becoming repeat champions. The birds controlled almost the entire game, up seven with under five minutes left. Then, in the final minute, still clinging to a one-point lead, Aaron Harrison beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer, delivering a knockout blow. A shot that deflated a 3-year euphoric balloon Cards fans had been riding.

To make matters worse, UK took UofL’s seat on the ride to the final game, before ultimately losing to a Connecticut team that the Cards had beaten twice by a combined 45 points. There was no way the Cards would have lost that game, which would have kept the title in the Commonwealth for a third straight year. Instead, wehad to watch, in agony, an inferior opponent take the crown back to Connecticut.

So Santa, think about all of the gifts and celebrations UK has had over the last several years. Since ruining the possibility of a repeat championship, we have had to watch as they have returned for two Final Fours, and one near-perfect season. I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch looking down on Whoville, while all the Whos eat, drink and play with big toys, but it really isn’t fair.

I bring this up for a reason, Santa: I actually expect this Louisville team to win Saturday, and it’s really all I want this Christmas. Mostly, I only ask for this out of love. I love this UofL team. It is one of the, if not the, most talented, deep, athletic group of Cardinal birds I’ve ever seen. They are better than UK at every position, and maybe two-fold. Take, for instance, UK’s starting point guard, Tyler Ulis, who is a wonderful player. I wouldn’t trade any of UofL’s top three guards for him … maybe even top four. All of them are better shooters, more athletic, and bigger (and that is not a knock on Ulis). 

This group of guards is clearly the engine driving the most potent Louisville offense since at least the national title team — and again, maybe ever. But beyond their offensive prowess, two of them are fifth-year seniors, and another was the starting point guard on a team that was a free throw away from the Final Four last year. You could not ask for a better backcourt to run into the chaos and insanity of Rupp Arena.

Santa, this is the most ridiculous, unnecessarily stressful week of the year. My UK friends and family who are reasonably sane the other 51 weeks of the year, come completey unhinged and can’t have a conversation that doesn’t involve some semblance of trash talk. It’s so not in the Christmas spirit. I promise to behave myself and treat all of my UK brothers and sisters with love and respect, like any other week of the year. All I ask of you is that you please let the Cards crush the kitty cats Saturday. 

Thank you, Santa. Miss you.

P.S. The cookies were out, but my birds were hungry. Hope you like cat food.