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By LARRY VAUGHT
Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook editor Chris Dortch, who also writes for www.nba.com, watched the SEC Tournament, and got to see Kentucky lose a game to Vanderbilt he was convinced the Cats would win.
Before that loss, I asked him a few questions about the Cats. Enjoy the answers as you await to see if UK will host a NIT game or not this week at Memorial Coliseum.
How would you rate the overall job Calipari has done this year?
Dortch: “Under the circumstances, he’s done well. Some may dispute me, but those would be people who don’t understand basketball. Coaches always look better when shots fall. This hasn’t been one of John’s better shooting teams. He’s also been challenged to get his players to consistently defend and play with the aggression he prefers. And we haven’t even gotten to the Noel injury yet. That was critical.”
What UK player has been the biggest surprise to you this year?
Dortch: “I probably expected more consistency out of Harrow, not based on his previous performance but based on the fact Cal signed him. Cal seems to have had a little success with point guards recently.”
What UK players are back next year, which ones are gone to the NBA?
Dortch: “It wouldn’t surprise me if all the freshmen left. But if they asked my advice, I’d tell them to hang around and win a national championship before you take your place in the real world.”
What UK player has improved the most?
Dortch: “Julius Mays, maybe? All of the freshman have had their highs and lows. Frankly, I thought, like probably every other UK fan did, that, based on Cal’s track record, these guys would be playing like seniors come March. That hasn’t happened, but yet the Cats still have every opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. That has to account for something.”
What do you know or have you heard about the recruits UK has coming in?
Dortch: “It’s the most talented group Ca’s yet brought in. Is it the toughest group he’s signed? The most basketball savvy? That remains to be seen. But from a sheer talent standpoint, this is a haul for the ages. All the positions are covered. And the scary thing is, Kentucky’s not finished yet.”