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Guest post: Will this year’s team be remembered as one of the best or worst of the John Calipari era?

De’Aaron Fox (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

After being forced to endure watching another UK basketball game where the other team was inept at best and UK agreed to play to that level, I had to ask myself if this was the worst coached team I had seen during the John Calipari era.

I know the Archie Goodwin/Nerlens Noel team had the worst overall performance for a season but that team was also handicapped by a key injury to Noel during the season and a roster of role players to go with Goodwin.

This team is packed with NBA All Stars starting with Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. Throw in Bam Adebeyo, Isaiah Briscoe, Wenyen Gabriel as players that will one day be earning a paycheck playing professional basketball along with serviceable seniors in Hawkins, Willis and Mulder and you have a roster that should be able to compete with any team in the country based on talent.

Unfortunately that talent looks no better (and may be worse) than when it walked in the door of the Joe Craft Center last fall. They continue to play poor individual and team defense, rebounding effort is inconsistent at best, they turn the ball over at an alarming rate and their offense is non-existent outside of a fast break opportunity or an occasional pick and roll basket in a half court set.

With all that being said it is a testament to their talent that the team record is 23-5. Unfortunately this year the coaching does not appear to be keeping up with the talent.

This quote from the legendary Tom Landry describes in a nutshell what coaching is all about. “Leadership (coaching) is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.”

That’s seems to be the element missing from this year’s basketball team. Seeing players continue to make the same errors over and over again, give inferior effort against inferior competition and look lost and confused on the court when the other teams steps up the level of competition are all marks of a team that is poorly coached.

With that being said, based on his career results, John Calipari is a Hall of Fame coach and I realize that finishing with an outstanding win-loss record and a potential opportunity to win the SEC title and perform well and potentially win the NCAA tournament are all still very real opportunities for this team.

But if the coaching and playing continue as they have for the rest of the games left this season it seems inevitable that we will look back on this year as one that was as disappointing as the 2012-2013 team.

4 comments

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  1. Mike

    Team CHARMIN….There have probably been softer teams out there over the years, but I can’t think of one softer than these guys. For all of the pre-season accolades coming from inside and outside of the locker room and for the quality of play we all saw in December, this could be the worst of the Cal era based on the way they are currently playing. Bam finally showed what he was capable of in the 2nd half but where has it been all season long?

  2. OldFan

    I hope they improve because as of today, they are no where near one of the best teams under Cal. This backcourt reminds me very much of Harrow and Goodwin, but they have so much more talent. Wish I knew the problem, but they have a very long way to go.

  3. Cats79

    I haven’t given up on this team hell Cal led two teams since he’s been here to the final four thathad no business being there. So in March anything can happen the regular season is mean less once March madness starts. Some teams plays a different level then hopefully this team will. Go Cats!!!

  4. TheProfessor

    Comparing this team to 2013 is inappropriate, especially to the manner in which 2013 ended its season. That team was on a bumpy ride compared to most Calipari teams, but its record and level of play were top 20 quality until Noel went down at Florida. Nerlens was the heart and soul of that team, and when the team lost Nerlens, it went into a nose dive, ending with the NIT crash and burn. Prior to that fateful game at Florida, it was the #16 most efficient team in the nation (Pomeroy), which is a sweet 16 level. It was not a championship contender to be sure, but given Calipari’s track record of bringing teams on late in the season, who knows what it might have been able to do, had Nerlens not been lost.

    For example, the 2014 team, on Feb 8 (same stage as 2013 prior to the Florida game) was #15 (Pomeroy), and that team continued its own bumpy ride to a championship game appearance.

    This team is not experiencing the type of bumpy rides that marked 2013 or 2014. This team was #7 on Feb 8, and is still #7 (Pomeroy). This team has had a much stronger season to date than either of those earlier teams. Since 2002, Champions have had the following characteristics:

    1. A top 8 Net Efficiency
    2. An Offensive Efficiency and a Defensive Efficiency each in the top 20

    This team meets both criteria. Of course there are 8 teams rated in the top 8, and of those UK is one of 5 that satisfy the second criteria.

    Do I know what will happen come March? Of course I don’t, and neither does any one else who read and writes here. However, the facts cannot be refuted. Yes, this team experienced some slippage after game 15 and through game 24. During that month (Jan 8 to Feb 8) this team dropped from the #1 efficient team to the current #7. This team has reversed its slippage the last 3 games, and its net efficiency is on the rise.

    Each season, I want my UK team to win a championship. For me, that means I want my UK team to play basketball at the most efficient level possible, and if not #1, then #2 because either #1 or #2 have won the vast majority of the last 15 championships. However, in years that #1 or #2 did not win, the champion has come from a top 8 team. So, if my team can’t be #1, or #2, I want it to be in the top 8 going into the tournament. That is where this team is today.

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