Ever since John Calipari took over the BEST job in College Basketball, a good friend of mine sends me little reminder texts of the Kentucky glory returning to the top. Recently, he sent me a single picture of the mascot! (Petro your the man). I guess this is what happens when your favorite coach unites with your favorite team growing up. Plus loads of talent doesn’t hurt.
So minus the hype, where is the Kentucky basketball program? They are definately a step up from the Billy Gillepsie experiment. A solid returning core, along with a couple of high flying recruits have the Wildcats standing as the best team in the SEC and a Final Four contender.
The real trick for Coach Cal is to not leave or be involved in any incidents that end in NCAA sanctions. His last 2 NCAA jobs have ended that way, the ’94 UMASS Final Four banner has been brought down and Memphis’ dream 2007-08 season isn’t in any of the record books. Two historic seasons that, by NCAA standards, don’t exist. I think that Kentucky is the setting where Coach Cal can prove he is a top notch recruiter and good college basketball man. If he can’t, he is just another carpet-bagger, using the system, crushing the program, and then high-tailing it out of town.
Unlike at UMASS and even Memphis, Calipari has a brand name. Kentucky. At his previous jobs he had to take guys that the major programs stayed away from. Reasons such as; questionable academic scores, sketchy professionalism vs. amateur status and so on. *No Hype supports all of these players and wishes for an end to the NBA Age-Limit rule.* Programs like Kentucky do not need to do that. Kentucky is right there with Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, etc. They are the top tier, they can be selective in their recruits.
So if Calipari brings major sanctions again to yet another program. He is just that, a sanction. We will see.
As for the bounce of the ball. Patrick Patterson was named to the Preseason All-American Team. A big guy, I wonder how he will be able to adapt to the Dribble Drive Offense, but what a luxury to have a 5-Star player on your team. The fabulous Freshmen trio of Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, and John Wall are high-flying, some of the most exciting players in the country.
What Calipari does so well is not conform athletic, dynamic, powerful players. The beauty of the Dribble Drive is that it allows the players to adjust on the fly, trust their instincts, and attack the rim. Classic basketball. Too many times do I find myself watching games at all levels where the players are robots, trained in a system. “move, cut, jump, breathe, pass”
I predict a SEC championship for the Wildcats and a berth in the Elite 8.