Dec 15, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Archie Goodwin (10), forward Alex Poythress (22), forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) and guard Ryan Harrow (12) walk out of a time out during the game against the Lipscomb Bisons in the first half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Basketball: So, What Do we Know?

Dec 4, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Kyle Wiltjer (33), guard Archie Goodwin (10), forward Nerlens Noel (3), guard Julius Mays (34) and forward Alex Poythress (22) talk during a time out in the game against the Samford Bulldogs at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Samford 88-56. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not sure who made the schedule for the 2012-2013 Wildcats, but… (let me channel my inner Stephen A. Smith for a moment): IT’S A TRAVESTY. A MOCKERY. IT’S A SHAM! EIGHT DAYS WITHOUT KENTUCKY BASKETBALL? ARE WE GONNA TAKE AWAY AIR FOR THREE DAYS TOO?!?  Alright. Thank you for that. Seriously, Eight days without Kentucky Basketball is insane, especially when the guys are finally hitting their collective stride is painful. Well, painful for fans and most likely for the players as head coach John Calipari has a few extra days to get them ready for the grind of the SEC season.  To borrow from ESPN’s Bill Simmons, aka “The Sports Guy,” here are some things we know and what we think we know.

What we know:

Ryan Harrow is the guy that drives this team.  During the Louisville game, he was the one player that was 100% sure of what he was supposed to do on the offensive and defensive end.  After a much publicized rocky start, Harrow has become the guy that many Wildcat fans, prior to the season, thought he would be.  He’s a calm floor leader, but has started to show signs of being a more vocal leader.  I think it’s safe to say that if the Cats make another deep run into the tournament, this will be because Cal and the Cats got much better play out of the point guard position.

What we think we know: 

Dec 4, 2012; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22) dunks the ball against the Samford Bulldogs at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

That Alex Poythress is going to be a dominant player this season.  The flashes of absolute brilliance and athleticism have been there. But so have the periods where, while watching the Cats play, it’s easy to forget that Poythress is on the court.  One of the biggest issues facing incoming freshmen is to learn how to play hard every night and to play through adversity.  I know that Calipari is working with Poythress aside from the regular practice, but at some point, AP is going to have to decide that he wants to be great and bring it every night, no matter the opponent. And when he does, the entire college basketball world will know how dominant he is.

What we know/What we think we know:

We know that Kyle Wiltjer is a great spot up shooter. We think he can do more things to help the Cats win.  During the Louisville game, the limitations to Wiljer’s game became glaringly obvious when Cal substituted Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein for offense and defensive purposes in the waning minutes of the tightly contested game.  I understand that Wiltjer may not run as fast or jump as high as some of the other players on the team, but he can’t afford to remain a defensive liability and remain in the lineup, receiving a high amount of playing time.  I think that Kyle Wiltjer can learn to use angles and body position to become a defender. I think that he can also use that low post jump hook effectively on offense as well as putting the ball on the deck and creating his own shot.  Because if he doesn’t, he’s going to see his playing time going down.

What we know:

Nerlens Noel is good.  If you’re one of the people that are still comparing him to Anthony Davis, please stop.  It’s not fair to either of them and you just may be missing one of the more uniquely talented individuals to ever wear the Blue and White.  Noel is blocking shots at a respectable rate, but it’s the other parts of his defense that really draw the praise.  For a big man, Nerlens Noel has really quick hands and is averaging 1.7 steals a game, along with numerous deflections.  The young with the flat top is making a name for himself outside of AD’s big shadow.

What we know:

That Archie Goodwin can get to the rim almost at will.

What we think we know:

That Archie Goodwin will understand what he needs to once he gets to the paint.  At times, it looks as if he’s driving to the lane simply to draw contact and hopefully get a foul call.  At this stage of the game, Goodwin just needs to go to the basket looking to score, contact be damned.  And I think we’d all like to see more of this.

What we think we know:

At some point, Calipari is going to have a really good free throw shooting team.  We’ve seen Cal’s teams at Memphis and UK fail to win games based solely on poor free throw shooting.  And this year doesn’t look any different.  It has to get better, the Big Blue Faithful aren’t going to be happy watching games slip away simply because the guys aren’t better free throw shooters.

What we know:

This team is getting better.  The team that lost to Louisville is not the same team that lost to Notre Dame and Baylor.  And while I’m the first person to proclaim that we don’t do moral victories at the University of Kentucky, it’s hard to not get excited about this team’s potential.  They’ve got the entire SEC slate to win some games and get some valuable experience to make yet another deep run in the NCAA tournament.

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Tags: Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

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