Kentucky Wildcats to shock the world as an eight seed?

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Call it the “us versus the world” mentality talking, but Willie Cauley-Stein raised some eyebrows yesterday when he talked about “shocking the world”. The comment was kind of taken out of context, but when you look at it, kind of helps drive home the point that Kentucky really is the most overanalyzed team in this tournament. Here is what Cauley-Stein said yesterday when asked about some John Calipari comments that UK could do “something crazy” in the tournament.

 

I think just shocking the world. There’s a lot of people that don’t think that we can make a run at it. And, you know, a lot of people don’t want to see us make a run at it, and I think that’s what he means by doing something crazy. Despite how the season went, now the real season begins tomorrow for us. And, you know, I think his whole thing is just trying to shock the world and do what people say we can’t do.”

 

The “shock the world” comments have been played out and beaten like a dead horse already and while Cauley-Stein was talking about UK overcoming all the negative press and the people who are down on this team, he did not necessarily think a win over Kansas State will “shock the world”. I can see why some people jumped on the comment though to be honest, but I think this team knows you have to go one game by one game and that the end result may shock the world.

 

Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

No one is better at installing the “us against the world” mentality than JOhn Calipari and if he has convinced a group of McDonald’s All Americans that beating Kansas State will shock the world, bully for him. I think he did use “shock the world” as an end result and motivation, but he knows that it is one game at a time.

Coach Cal said it’s possible to “shock the world” when everybody says “you have no chance,” but that’s not the mentality he wants his team playing with as it begins its NCAA Tournament run. Quite the contrary.

“I’m trying to get them to focus,” Calipari said. “When they make that kind of statement, they are not totally listening to me now. You must stay in the moment and play good basketball games. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done. It’s how we’re playing.”

It goes back to the oldest coaching cliché in the book: Take it one game at a time. Instead of focusing on the big picture, Calipari wants his players focusing on the first step. Without the first step, they can’t make it to the second step.

“We are worried about one game,” Coach Cal said. “Let’s shock the world tomorrow – one game. And then we’ll go from there.”

Kentucky, by definition, is the favorite on Friday according to seeding, but while some people have pegged UK as a potential threat to top-seeded Wichita State in the next round, Calipari has refused to look ahead this week or even acknowledge playing the Shockers.

Calipari knows his team has its hands full Friday night in St. Louis against what he called “an outstanding opponent.”

“Obviously my 18-year-olds are not listening to me if that (shock-the-world comment) is the statement they make, but that’s OK,” Coach Cal said. “Now I will go back and kill them and it will give me another to opportunity to say something to them.”

In the end, if John Calipari can get this Kentucky team to focus, the sky is the limit … and yes, an eight seed advancing to the Sweet 16 is very rare and would “shock the world”. And even though we heard all year how bad and how underperforming this team is, there are some in the media that are ALREADY trying to downplay Kentucky’s achievements should they advance this weekend.

I really have not seen anything like the national media and how they have overreacted to virtually every game and comment Calipari has made this year, With that kind of intense media scrutiny, I can understand how this job is unique to any other in college basketball. If this team can focus and play like they have recently, they could in fact, be special.

I can’t think of another team that may have had a 10-0 run on Florida this year and Kentucky did it twice in a week. I admit, there is still apprehension as to what team shows up tonight, but I think this team still has a lot to prove. And I think they know that. Kansas State will be tough, but I look for UK to advance tonight.

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