By KEITH PEEL
In the classic movie “Forrest Gump,” Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) gives a life lesson to the viewers when he said “Momma said life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
I think that quote is a fitting description of this year’s version of Calipari’s Cats. You never know what you are going to get.
When they played North Carolina earlier in the season Malik Monk scored 47 to pull out a 103-100 win in a well played game against the Tar Heels. The very next game Monk was shut down by Pitino’s Cardinals and only scored 16 points on 1-9 shooting. In that game De’Aaron Fox stepped up to score 21 on 7-15 shooting to lead the Wildcats as the UK team as a whole managed to only shoot 39 percent from the field in a road loss.
Fast forward to the Ole Miss game on the road in Oxford, Mississippi. Bam Adebayo scores a career high 25, Malik Monk scores 34 and Isaiah Briscoe has a triple double in a 99-76 rout. The team shoots 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3 point range on the road.
Since then we have seen up and down 20 point plus wins against Arkansas (Monk could only manage 12 points but Fox came up big with 27) and Auburn (the team shot 57 percent and Monk scored 24) and a close game with Vanderbilt that was a ” foul fest” played at a snail’s pace where Isaiah Briscoe scored a career high 23 when Monk and Fox both got in early foul trouble.
In each of those games UK saw a different style of play with some teams playing zone mixed with man to man, some pressed and some tried to run and outscore the Cats. In each case we saw a different player step up in critical situations to help pull out the victory. The last time we saw a mentally tough team this versatile with so many different scorers that can play against a variety of different styles of defense was the 2012 National Champion Anthony Davis led team.
That team also had the ability to play fast, play slow, play against a zone defense and continue to pile up the victories. Hopefully this team will continue to improve their ability to step up in critical situations and make winning plays and follow in the footsteps of the 2012 team by bringing home banner number 9 as National Champions.