We all know that the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team has high expectations. Given the history of success and the resources poured into the program, there’s no fault in the members of the Big Blue Nation to expect great things year in and year out. But, I think there’s a difference between high expectations and absurdly high expectations. Looking at the 2012-2013 team, what can we reasonably expect from this team?
First off, to paraphrase our former head men’s basketball coach, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Anthony Davis aren’t walking through that door. Which one of these guys is going to be the one to step up into the spotlight and not be overwhelmed by the bright glare? For decades, the UK Men’s Basketball team has been one of the premier programs in the county. And, as a result, the players and coaches have all had to deal with the bright lights that accompanies such lofty status. But now, with the 24/7 news cycle, Twitter and countless blogs, the intensity of the spotlight is intensified. Some of the most successful teams in UK history have had at least one guy to step up and own the team. So, who’s it going to be this year? Nerlens Noel? Ryan Harrow?
When looking at the roster dynamics of the last three NCAA Championship teams (2012, 1998, 1996) there’s been one thing that has stood out. Leadership from the upperclassmen. Whether it was Tony Delk leading the 96 team or Jeff Sheppard turning in a MOP Final Four performance or Darius Miller on last year’s team, there has always been one guy that we could count on to right the ship in turbulent times. Whether it’s on the road in a hostile environment or March when the tourneys begin, Coach Cal is going to need to find that guy to deliver in the crunch time. I think that’s going to fall on the shoulders of Kyle Wiltjer, the lone major returning contributor from last year’s team. Can the big guy from Portland do it?