Kentucky and Kansas Resume Their Tradition Laden Series
But It Ain't What It Used To Be

What has happened to Kansas and Kentucky basketball?

Once upon a time, a Kansas-Kentucky game usually involved at least one if not two teams in the hunt for a national championship. At this stage of the 2005-06 season, neither team can be consider a serious contender, and it remains possible that one or both of these once proud teams may not even make the NCAA tournament field. I doubt that either school would admit today that they no longer sustain their own rich traditions, but fans from both schools are whispering that the other has fallen from those treasured positions of grace.

Certainly, a single season does not define tradition, or absence thereof, and noone would argue that these proud programs have lost their luster solely because of the mediocre they have posted thus far this season. However, these proud programs have lost their luster over a period of a few years of sub-championship play, and the facts remain, both teams have experienced inauspicious starts this season.

The Kansas Jayhawks have posted a disappointing 7-4 record with loses to Arizona by 12, Arkansas by 1, Nevada by 2 and Saint Joseph's by 3. Their most impressive win is over California by 13 on December 10 in Kansas City , an off campus “home” away from home. Otherwise, the highest ranked Jayhawk victim this season is #166 Pepperdine.

Kentucky stands at 10-3 as they travel to Lawrence , Kansas to take on the Jayhawks in the famous Allen Field House. Kentucky 's losses have come to Iowa by 4, North Carolina by 4, and Indiana by 26. Kentucky's most impressive victories this season have been over #10 Iona by 6, #41 Louisville by 12, and #62 Ohio by 8. However, Kentucky struggled in its last outing, against #278 Central Florida , only winning by 2 in a very low scoring, slow paced game in Rupp Arena.

Saturday's renewal of this great basketball rivalry should be a hotly contested affair in the fabled Allen Field House. The game will be decided in the last few possessions, possibly decided by which team scores last. However, make no mistake, neither of these once proud programs will display the talent and determination to achieve greatness tomorrow, and that is sad.

It ain't what it used to be.


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Copyright 2005 Richard Cheeks
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