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Calipari's rebuilding job last season pales in comparision to this seasons task


Most pundits thought that John Calipari was a miracle worker last season …. well, he may have to outdo himself this season to get the Wildcats back in the top 10. With the announcement that Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are not returning to his Wildcat squad, John Calipari finds himself with just five returning players on his roster. That number is cut to four if you assume that Darnell Dodson may not be returning. And there is not a lot of experience that returns to the Wildcat roster.

Without a doubt, the returning roster is a great deal less experienced than the returning roster Calipari had to work with last season. When Jodie Meeks departed for the NBA, pundits bemoaned Kentucky returning roster and declared Kentucky a “rebuilding project”. Calipari inherited a roster of seven returning players which made up 132.8 minutes a game out of a possible 200. The seven players made up 60% of Kentucky’s scoring the previous season, along with 73.4% of Kentucky’s rebounding. All in all, it was a pretty experienced group that Calipari did inherit. This squad only returned 22.2% of their three pointers from the previous season.

Granted, these numbers are a little misleading because several players from the previous season saw their role diminished a good bit. The trio of Perry Stevenson, Ramon Harris, and Josh Harrellson saw their numbers decrease from 59.5 minutes to 22.6, from 16.9 ppg to 7.2, and 12.2 rebounds a game to 4.7. All these number prove is that the newcomers actually accounted for more of the scoring and rebounding which makes Calipari’s rebuilding project that much more impressive. Calipari proved to be a master with the construction of the Wildcat’s roster, going from a 22-14 record to 35-3.

With great success came the spoils of success as Calipari is left with five returning players and possibly four depending on the status of Darnell Dodson. Let’s assume for a minute that Dodson does remain a Wildcat. If he does, Calipari will return 59.4 minutes a game (out of 200), and just 27.1% of his scoring and 22% of his rebounding. Yikes. If we remove Dodson from the equation (which is still a hot rumor), the four returnees account for 44.9 minutes, 19.5% of the scoring, and 16% of the rebounds. Double yikes.

The one area that the returning players represent favorably is in the three point arena. Without Dodson, Kentucky returns just 27.8% of their treys, but the return of Dodson puts that figure right at 50%.

I don’t think Kentucky fans need to worry too much yet. Calipari has proven to be a master craftsman at combining several new players with his existing players, although Kentucky does not have the luxury of rebuilding with Patrick Patterson, as Calipari had last season. But Cal does have the number two recruiting class to rebuild with, and this class could become number one with the addition of Terrence Jones.

But as we have learned, it’s best not to discount John Calipari. Hopefully the addition of Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Stacey Poole and Doron Lamb will result in the blueprint for Title #8.

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