At the beginning of the season, Willie Cauley-Stein was a solid presence on the court for the Wildcats and performing in a strong manner. Within the last two games, against Arkansas and Tennessee, Cauley-Stein’s playing time has taken a plunge, spending more time on the bench than he was on the court, only playing 18 minutes against Arkansas and 19 against Tennessee. Not only has his playing time suffered, his performance as a whole has been slacking.
Against Arkansas Cauley-Stein only scored 2 points, a field goal in the second half of the ball game, and he only took 2 shots. Against Tennessee, Cauley-Stein went 0-5 from the field and ended the game with 0 points scored, after many performances of scoring within the 7-16 point range for the Wildcats. Not only is he not being much of an offensive presence for the Wildcats, his defense game hasn’t been up to par lately either. Within the last three games, he has blocked 1 shot in each game, after having two performances this season where he blocked 9 shots, a huge fall as the season is continuing. Cauley-Stein hasn’t made it to the free throw line since the Vanderbilt game, where he only shot 25% from the line, not too impressive
Now, I’m not trying to dog Willie Cauley-Stein, he has been a presence grabbing rebounds for the Wildcats, 6 against Arkansas and 3 against Tennessee, Tennessee being a game where the Wildcats were rarely out hustled grabbing rebounds. He also had a pretty impressive 2 steals against the Vols. But what happened to Willie Cauley-Stein? There are a number of things that could be plaguing his game. He could be under the weather, he could be stressed or he could just be down on himself at the current time. Whatever it is, Willie Cauley-Stein knows that he is one of the best defensive players in the country and he will figure himself out, no doubt about it. As Willie Cauley-Stein is figuring himself out and getting back into his game, Dakari Johnson is stepping up and playing his role for the team. Willie Cauley-Stein’s rough past few games haven’t been a killer for the Wildcats, but he needs to get back into his game before it’s too late for the Wildcats, something he should be able to do.