Billy Reed: UK basketball is no longer must-watch TV for me (back to National Lampoon’s Christmas)
The last time the Kentucky men’s team opened the basketball season with a 1-5 record was 1926-’27. I was not around then, believe it or not, but neither was Dick Vitale, March Madness, and the dunk. Adolph Rupp was in Kansas, three years away from coming to UK and revolutionizing the game.
I mention this to give you some perspective on the current team, which dropped to 1-5 yesterday with a 75-63 loss to North Carolina. So far this is the worst Wildcat team anybody has ever seen and it shows no signs of getting better anytime soon.
As usual the Big Blue apologists points to the team’s youth and experience. But that doesn’t fly. All of Coach John Calipari’s teams are young and inexperienced because of the way he embraces the one-and-done rule.
The team’s defense and rebound has been acceptable. But their offense has been atrocious. They take bad shots. If they run any plays, you can’t see them with the naked eye.
They like to fog up threes instead of working the ball inside out.
Some stats from the UNC game:
• UK made 40 per cent of its field-goal attempts.
• The Wildcats had 16 turnovers to eight assists.
• UK made 23 per cent of its field-goal attempts and 60 per cent of its foul shots.
Kentucky was led in scoring by Mintz with 18, Boston with 15 and Askew off the bench with 12.
The Cats led by four at halftime, but got blown out by 16 in the second half. They look like a team that has lost its confidence. Calipari may want to shake things up by changing lineups or playing time. He has to do something dramatic, the sooner the better.
The roster includes 10 blue-chip freshen: 6-9 Lance Ware of New jersey, 6-7 Keion Brooks of Indiana, 6-3 Devin Askew of California, 6-7 Terrence Clarke of Boston, 6-6 Cam’ron Fletcher, 6-10 Isaiah Jackson of Michigan, 7-0 Olivier Sarr of France, 5-8 Kareem Watkins of New Jersey, 6-6 Brennan Canada of Mt. Sterling, and 6-9 Lance Ware of New Jersey.
It has two sophomores in 6-9 Jacob Toppin of New York and 6-4 Zan Payne of Lexington, one redshirt freshman in 6-6 Dontaie Allen of Falmouth, one senior in 6-0 Riley Welch of Colorado, and a grad student in 6-3 Davion Mintz.
Look at the height of those guys. Anybody in the country would take any of them? So why are they 1-5?
Calipari has no upper-class leadership. He doesn’t have a lot of playing time for some of the freshman. He needs to bring in one of UK’s great shooters from the past to teach the fundamentals of the art.
Maybe Calipari finally has overplayed his hand and recruited talented platers who didn’t get good coaching in high school. Maybe some of them don’t know how to be an unselfish team player. So far they are not nearly as passionate as their fans.
All I can tell you is that Kentucky basketball is no longer must-watch TV for me. I can be better entertained by watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” again. Maybe Calipari will pull off a miracle. But the Cats have to show me. I’m not giving them any more breaks based on potential.