About a third of the way into the regular season, the team results have not been what Kentucky Wildcat fans may have expected, but don’t blame Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel. ESPN has released their ranking of Freshmen and both Goodwin and Noel are ranked in the top ten, at #5 and #6.
5. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky – 15.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.4 APG Freshman Statistical Comparison: Tyreke Evans, Memphis (2008-09)
Goodwin is putting up numbers eerily similar to another John Calipari freshman sensation, albeit from his pre-Kentucky days. Like Goodwin, Tyreke Evans was pressed into point guard duty for Memphis in 2009, finishing the season at 17.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 3.9 APG. Through 10 games, Goodwin is averaging 15.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 4.4 APG. Just like John Wall and Brandon Knight did as freshmen, he leads the Wildcats in points and assists.
6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky – 10.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.9 BPG, 2.8 SPG Freshman Statistical Comparison: Tyrus Thomas, LSU (2005-06)
In the span of a month, Noel went from overrated to overlooked. That’s what expectations will do for you. Maybe he won’t be the next Anthony Davis, but his numbers on the defensive end are worthy of praise. Noel leads all freshmen in steals (2.8), ranks second in blocks (3.9) and fourth in rebounds (9.0). He’s the only player, regardless of class, ranked in the top 50 in steals and blocks. Even if his offense doesn’t come around, Noel will remain among the most impactful freshmen.
There is of course, room for improvement as most Kentucky fans feel that their freshmen should be #1, #2, and #3 and the exclusion of Alex Poythress on this list (15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds) is a whole different thing. Maybe a big showing against Louisville will catapult Alex on this list and move our boys up?
With one more tuneup before Louisville, the big question is “Can Kentucky get better”? ESPN’s Seth Greenburg looked at five teams and asked just that question. His prognosis for Kentucky will make the Big Blue Nation feel a bit better:
The challenge for Calipari is that he needs to coach his team and push his team while keeping them confident. This is made more complicated by the fact that he doesn’t have a player to coach his locker room and explain to his young Wildcats that there is a method to Cal’s intensity and demanding coaching style.
I do feel that these Wildcats are starting to figure it out. Ryan Harrow is playing with more confidence, making better decisions and competing harder on the defensive end, which allows Archie Goodwin to play off the ball. Alex Poythress is more consistent and is poised to be a dominant player come SEC play, while Nerlens Noel is playing harder and is more alert and making better decisions on the defensive end.
My expectation for the Wildcats is that they will take a major step forward during Camp Cal and will once again be a factor come March.
In case you missed it because of end of the world plans/Christmas shopping, ESPN aired the “Going Big” documentary about Sam Bowie. I admit, I missed part of it and was switching back and forth, but it is stored on my DVR and is a priority to watch over the weekend. In a screening for his family, Bowie offers a preview and talks about why he agreed to participate in the project: