Kentucky Wildcats Basketball needs to worry less about "tournament resume" and more on final exam

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Feb 23, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Alex Poythress (22), forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15), guard Julius Mays (34), guard Archie Goodwin (10) and guard Ryan Harrow (12) during the game against the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Missouri 90-83. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Lunardi is not going to be happy and those that live and die by the “bracketology” reports are going to ignore this point of view. But finally someone came out and called ESPN out on their incessant “who is in and who is out” updates in the month of February. Eric Crawford  actually has a very good point of view and says “enough is enough” on the conjecture and says to let the results play out on the court:

 

Here’s what I’m tired of: “building a resume.”

A resume? What, are they applying for a job at the Gap? Are they trying to get to a job fair? Do they have an appointment with human resources? With LexingtonHelpWanted.com?

The Wildcats, and every other team, need to ignore resumes and focus on rebounds, for starters. UK did that in the second half against Missouri, which came into Saturday’s game ranked No. 2 in the nation in rebound margin, and bullied the Wildcats to a 9-rebound advantage by halftime.

In the second half and overtime, UK outrebounded Missouri 23-12. That’s important. Whether UK is “in” or “out” of some bracketologist’s bracket on Feb. 24 is not important.

That’s just something ESPN is selling because it needs a narrative on which to hang its coverage, a hook on which to make games more marketable than they otherwise would be.

For UK, there is no “resume.” Life began, basically, the day Nerlens Noel went to the sidelines. The Wildcats are 2-1. And even that doesn’t matter. What matters is what they do over the rest of the regular season and then in the conference tournament. And how the Wildcats are playing is more important than which teams they are beating. Missouri? The Tigers are 1-7 on the road this season. They’re so bad on the road that they can’t beat the breakfast buffet line at the Embassy Suites, so bad on the road that they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night — and it didn’t matter.

What matters isn’t the competition, but how the Wildcats improve.

I guess my view is still freshly covered by the postseason I covered a year ago, a University of Louisville team that was left for dead every bit as much as this UK team is.

It had very little resume. But it aced the final exam. That’s the priority for this UK team now. Saturday night, it passed another test.

 

Feb 23, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Julius Mays (34) celebrates after hitting a shot against the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Missouri 90-83. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the credit for Kentucky’s win Saturday goes to transfer Julius Mays and rightfully so.  And if Kentucky is to make the NCAA Tournament and a run in it, it is going to come down to “Old Man Mays”:

 

And yet, without a doubt, this team is still in the hunt. Callow Kentucky teams of recent vintage have always had a veteran presence to rally around when things get tough, and this year is no different. The brightest spot for Kentucky tonight was reserved for fifth-year senior Julius Mays, who scored 24 points – his highest in a Wildcat uniform – and cobbled together a very efficient night’s work. He even hit eight of his nine free throws.

Mays has been well-traveled in college hoops, playing his first two seasons at NC State, then spending a year at Wright State, finishing his degree, and moving on to Kentucky for his final season. Experienced transfers had a major impact for both teams, in fact.

Mays can score – he did it in bunches at Wright State, where he established his standing career high of 33 points. It’s nice to know he can do so when called upon. But his real value to this squad of uber-talented tyros is as a combination Yoda/Dumbledore/Tim Duncan figure – the wizened vet who can show toughness (Mays stayed in the game when leg cramps made it difficult for him to get up and down the court), cool-headedness (making those free throws) and guile (inducing fellow fifth-year Oriakhi to foul out) when needed.

Haters gonna hate, but the NCAA tournament would be poorer without Kentucky in it. If Mays can lead his young charges to a couple of road wins, and a decent run in the SEC tourney, we won’t have to find out what that would look like.

 

 Looking ahead to the future, Andrew Wiggins is preparing to make his visit to Kentucky on Wednesday and will be visiting Kansas and North Carolina shortly thereafter.  Although some pundits think Wiggins is a FSU lean, he is still awaiting his “moment of clarity”.

 

The 6-foot-8 Wiggins heads to defending NCAA champion Kentucky on Wednesday and then visits Kansas March 4 and North Carolina March 9.

He took an official visit to Florida State, the alma mater of his parents, in early December.

Somewhere along the line he hopes the “moment” of clarity will come to him and enable him to make the best choice for college, which likely will only be a one-yeat pitt stop before he is selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

“I haven’t found it yet, so I am just waiting for that moment that will convince me it’s the right place,” Wiggins told SNY.tv exclusively after scoring 17 points Friday night as Huntington (W.V.) Prep beat Oldsmar Christian, 64-46.

 

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