It’s been described as Christmas morning by some Kentucky Wildcats Basketball fans. I digress and save Selection Sunday for that moniker, but it is apparent that today is very important to every member of the Big Blue Nation. Another basketball season is upon us and it is a chance to erase the negativity and get rid of the sour taste last season left in our mouths. Basketball season starts tonight. And while you would think that the pressure is on John Calipari, it is not. Unlike this year, he seems confident and at peace with this team. And he realizes he has time to work with this team and get them where he wants them to be.
Coach Cal had an epiphany Thursday, one he probably needed before Kentucky’s regular-season opener on Friday at 7 p.m. against UNC Asheville. He’s got time. “I’ve got four months,” Calipari said. “I’ve got four months to help this team put them in a position of how they’re going to play offensively and defensively to do something special. It’s just we are what we are right now.”
For all the hype surrounding this group and how good it can be, Coach Cal reminded himself Thursday that it’s about the process and where his team wants to go in the end, not where it is right now. Even after seeing UK’s improved play against Montevallo, Calipari said his group still wasn’t a good team. It’s only now he’s realizing that it’s OK for the Wildcats to have problems because the season has barely entered November. If he tries to push too hard or make things develop faster than they should, he’s going to “cheat the kids and drive (himself) crazy.” “
As long as they’re trying, I’ve got to be good with it,” Coach Cal said. “(There are) things I can’t accept and won’t ever accept: I need more effort, more intensity, more fight, more concentration. Other than that, everything else is throw up five balls, here we go, don’t know what’s going to happen.” One thing Calipari may or may not have realized during his moment of truth is, for all the molding and teaching he’s been trying to do with his team in a short period of time, he’s been doing it all without a player who is supposed to take the reins of the most important position in his offense.
Perhaps part of the reason for the calmness in Calipari is that he knows Andrew Harrison is back tonight. And of course, Harrison makes this Kentucky team a totally different one.
1. Andrew Harrison is back. Not just that Andrew Harrison is back, but that he also makes Kentucky a different team. The freshman point guard from Texas missed the two exhibition games because of bruised knee. He did practice on Wednesday and “looked good,” according to Calipari. How does Harrison make UK different? Calipari compared it to playing a wide receiver at quarterback, then having your quarterback return to play quarterback. Jon Hood called Harrison “a playmaker.” So after the team without Andrew, it will be fun to see it with Andrew on Friday.
Which of course brings us to prediction time. The folks over at CBS Sports released their list of Final Four teams and predictions and Kentucky was picked by eventual national champ by three of the six experts. Five of the six pick Kentucky to make the final four. The lone outlier? Doug Gottlieb, who fills the roles of resident troll at CBS quite nicely after Jeff Goodman departed.