By RICHARD CHEEKS
It is now official. This is the poorest start by a Calipari coached UK team. All of the Calipari teams have won at least 4 of the first five games, and five of his teams finished the first five games without a blemish. Yes, this team has won four of its five starts. Yes, the overall strength of the opponents this season has been the second toughest of the Calipari Era, with the 2010-11 Cats having to face a slightly more difficult array of opponents than this team has faced.
However, this team’s adjusted net efficiency (ANE) after five games is the lowest of the Calipari Era, and the next lowest (2009-10) is significantly higher.
I will leave the explanation for the lackluster start to the basketball minds among us. It matters little to me if the reason is youth, selfish play, or some other exemplary explanation. All I need to understand is this team is not playing basketball at the high level the Big Blue Nation has grown accustomed, and expects. Coach Calipari has been warning anyone who cares to listen that this would be the case for weeks, indeed months, and now it is clear that if this team does not correct the various issues that are impeding its progress soon, it will lose many games.
Of course, there is time to fix this, but frankly, the clock is running.
On Monday, the Cats reverse the usual script. Kansas and ETSU each outscored the Cats by 10 points in the first 5 to 8 minutes before the Cats corrected course and played better basketball. On Monday, the Cats fiddled through the first half, used the first 10 minutes of the second half to build a 21 point lead, 63-42, with 9:51 remaining, forcing Troy to take a timeout. Over the last 9:51, Troy outscored the Cats 20-8 to close the margin to 8 points at the end of the game. Kentucky’s game over that 9:51 was marked by poor shooting and a rash of turnovers.
On Wednesday night, the Cats will entertain Fort Wayne at Rupp Arena in the sixth game of this season. Fort Wayne will enter the game as the #152 rated team at Pomeroy. Two years ago, Fort Wayne finished 24-10, and competed in the post season. Last season, the Mastodons finished 20-13 with a post season appearance. This season, Fort Wayne has started their season 3-1 with wins over #348 Delaware State by 14 and at #168 Illinois Chicago by 16. The Mastodons lost at #108 Oakland in their season opener. The third win came at the expense of non D1 Defiance by 55 points.
The Adjusted Net Efficiency (ANE) analysis for this match up, based on early season experience for each team, indicates a 22 point Kentucky win over Fort Wayne in a game played at 78 possessions, 89-67. Pomeroy sees this game with Kentucky having a 20-point advantage, 85-65 played at a pace of 73 possessions.
See how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board at:
You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link: