Preview – Kentucky Wildcats

November 3, 2009

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. images

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.  images-1

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”  GLAXO1.SP.122807.EDR.JPG

I predict a SEC championship for the Wildcats and a berth in the Elite 8.


Kentucky Basketball

May 20, 2009

jwcalipari

John Wall is going to Kentucky.  The dynamic Point Guard who stormed onto the recruiting scene in the past few months is a monumental grab for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.  Wall is perfect for the Dribble-Drive offense or as Calipari calls it, “Princeton on Steroids”.  Along side DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, and maybe Jodi Meeks, the Wildcats will be the team to beat in the SEC and in the Top-15 of the country. 

Its’ never been a question of if Calipari would bring back Kentucky to the promised land, but it is surprising how quick this happened.  Coach Calipari has longed to be at the head table in the College Coaching ranks, but at Memphis he couldn’t even get into the room to be with the Kansas’, North Carolina’s, and Duke’s.  Now, not only is he at the table, he has the head chair.

Wall’s signing with Kentucky signifies more then a good Wildcat team in 2009-2010, it also is sending shock waves throughout the College Basketball world that the dormant giant is finally awake, and not too happy.  Separated by the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina and Kentucky have always had a healthy rivalry based on tradition and success.  For a while it was easy for Roy Williams to fly into whatever high school gym had the talent with his Tar Heels gear on and walk away knowing he could get whomever he wants. 

Now the slicked back hair of Coach Cal and the embroidered blazers with UK on them will follow North Carolina to Mt. Zion Academy to Word of God School and so on, making the recruiting process and college basketball world a nuclear arms race once again.  But now with the superpowers back where they should be.