For the first time since Nerlens Noel went down with a season ending ACL tear, I can finally breathe again and I have Willie Cauley-Stein (WCS)to thank. Based on his comments earlier at the press conference, WCS seems to have a pretty defiant response to the fans and pundits saying UK’s season is over without Nerlens. For full disclosure, I was among them…sort of. As tough as the season has been to watch upon occasion, I couldn’t see how the loss of Nerlens could would produce any response that was remotely positive in the long run. Apparently Cauley-Stein disagrees.
Cauley-Stein: “Two hours after people got the (Noel) news, people – our fans – were saying like, ‘Oh, our season’s over,’ blah, blah, blah.”
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonRivals) February 15, 2013
Before Noel’s injury, WCS was averaging 20 minutes ppg while chipping in 8 (points per game) ppg, 5.5 (rebounds per game) rpg, 1 (assists per game) apg, and .8 (steals per game)spg (according to UK Athletics).
Add 10 minutes more per game and Rivals own Aaron Smith projects his contributions to increase to 11.7 ppg, 8.25 rpg, 2.48 bpg, and 1.13 spg.
Now you might say that based on looking at the current and projected numbers, WCS add much to the team. And that would be true. However, what you are failing to realize is that what Noel brought a refined and certain toughness all over the court and Willie brings intense passion that is catching. Like a cold. Nerlens was refined. WCS is raw…and raw is good.
Calipari has enjoyed immense success with players who feed off of and exude pure, raw emotion. Think DeMarcus Cousins, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
So, what we need to understand about the loss of Noel is that we gain a Willie Cauley-Stein that we have never seen and that is exciting. His defiant attitude that screams “we will not give in” is refreshing and boy is it coming at the right time.
We have a big game coming up tomorrow and I cannot wait for it. It’ll be like opening a present on Christmas.
I don’t know what this team will look like or what their identity will be, but rest assured, they aren’t going down for the season without a fight to the death.
On, On, U of K.