And the Big Blue freak out begins in 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1…..
There is a lot of things to not like in Kentucky’s 64-50 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in which Kentucky was held to their lowest point total since 2006. For the first time in the Calipari era, the point guard position is in a state of disarray and that was not in more evidence tonight. Kentucky is still a very long ways from be a good defensive team and this team has to find the eye of the tiger. Nerlens Noel looked, dare I say it, soft? Kentucky once again gave up too many easy rebounds and could not use their length and athleticism to overcome an opponent. Archie Goodwin was inconsistent and out of control. Kentucky, aside from Julius Mays, was a horrible shooting team. Willie Cauley-Stein looks totally lost and confused at times.
Did I get it all? Good. I just saved you about two hours and not having to listen to the call in show tonight. Now on to the positive.
OK. It was that type of game, but fact is, there is no reason to freak out. We do have a bit of historical precedent on early season losses in the Calipari era to look back on and guess what. In the two previous seasons that John Calipari has lost early season games in November and December, his teams have reached the Final Four. Last year, the last second loss at Indiana defined Kentucky’s season, but this game is very reminiscent of the 84-67 loss to Connecticut in the Maui Classic.
In that game, Brandon Knight was atrocious and Kentucky could not buy a basket as Kemba Walker made them look silly as UConn was up 50-29 at the half. Tonight’s first half was almost as bad as Eric Atkins had his way with the Wildcats backcourt and Kentucky had no effort and no heart. In that UConn game, Kentucky had a dreadful shooting night and tonight followed that script. Kentucky was out-shot 37.5% to Notre Dame’s 55.6% in the first half and could not really make a run to get back in the game in the second half.
Archie Goodwin was vilified in this game as Brandon Knight was in the UConn game. Goodwin went 1-7 from the field and made several bad decisions with the ball. Knight went 3-15. And as with Brandon Knight’s Kentucky’s team, Kentucky fans need to show patience.
I’ve said it before … there is no better coach at having his team learn from a loss than John Calipari. And there is no team that has a higher ceiling in college basketball than these Wildcats. We just need to be patient and give them time to gel.
If Kentucky beats Baylor at Rupp on Saturday, they will be 5-2, which is where that Brandon Knight team stood after 7 games. And then Kentucky has four games for Ryan Harrow to get control of this team before facing Louisville on December 29th, Tonight’s game is what happens when you lose all five of your starters and play on the road in a very tough venue. But mark my words. Kentucky will learn from this and be ready to face the Cardinals on December 29th.
IF not, THEN we can freak out.