Of course I feel ridiculous for even asking the question. But this is the type of things that pop in your mind at 3:40AM after a game like the Kentucky Wildcats had against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The logical mind says there has to be a quick fix with this Kentucky Wildcats Basketball team. There has to be a button to turn on or a flip to switch to stop the madness and the growing sense of desperation and deja vu that the members of the Big Blue Nation are feeling right now. And if I saw someone ask this question on Twitter right after the game, I probably would have twitter-blasted them to the extreme edges of the internet for asking such a stupid question. But is there too much talent on this Wildcats basketball team?
At this point, I would assume that in dissecting this team, there are no stupid questions, hence my query. Or no rock that should be left unturned in the quest to flip the switch with this team. While most people are pointing their fingers at the players, some Kentucky fans were doing some of the most absurd things of all and suggesting that Kentucky should go in a new direction with their coach.
While that boggles my mind after what John Calipari has accomplished at UK, fingers point at the coach when a team is not playing well. In any sport. So since that is the standard procedure when things go wrong in sports, let’s very quickly end this area of questioning right now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with John Calipari. However, he is in the midst of his worst back to back seasons in nearly a decade.
As of now, Kentucky has a two season record of 42-19 since winning the national title. You have to go back to 2004-2006 when Calipari suffered that many losses in a two-year span. And even that is something of a misleading stat. Calipari’s 2004-2005 Memphis team went 22-16 and made the semifinals of the NIT. The next year, the team was an Elite Eight team that went 33-4. And once again, it borders on crazy to whine and complain about twenty losses in two seasons while 90% of the NCAA teams would KILL for a bad stretch where your winning percentage is 68.8%. With all the warts and sleepless nights, John Calipari has won close to seventy percent of his games since winning the national title.
And now that we can agree that Kentucky does not need a new coach, it has to be the players, right? Who can we blame? Of course, we may have too much talent. What else is there?
Even to blame five freshmen on college basketball’s biggest stage seems kind of absurd. While wildly hyped and overhyped by Kentucky fans and pretty much every media member that writes about college basketball, this team has well, played like freshmen at times. And if you think about it, that is to be expected. Not to bash on high school coaches, but I doubt that most of these players really got Hall of Fame coaching in their HS careers. More likely than not, they had a system where they were the center of attention and the offenses were designed to go through them. That mentality continues in the summer with AAU coaching and is made even worse as that is a “me first” showcase type of basketball. It’s kind of unrealistic to expect John Calipari to overcome years of diverse coaching in just a few months and produce a national championship caliber team, much less perfection.