This is the first a of series of articles with various media members on their thoughts on Kentucky’s season as the Cats get set to start NCAA tournament play.
Question: What has this Kentucky season been like compared to what you expected on Oct. 15?
Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Radio: “I never ever thought in a million years we would be sitting here in March talking about a 10-loss season and a 6 or 7 seed in the NCAA tournament. Back in October I bought into this team. I believed all the hype. I believed it was the best recruiting class in UK history and one of the best in the history of college basketball. Final Four was for certain, and hanging banner No. 9 was a strong possibility. I honestly don’t think I’ve covered a team that has failed to meet my expectations more than this team has.”
Larry Glover, Larry Glover Live: “This season has been a big disappointment. I didn’t expect 40-0 but I did think UK would have a team that could compete for a national championship and they don’t.”
Keith Taylor, Winchester Sun: “Expected more wins, especially against top 25 teams. It’s hard to gauge what to expect from a team that starts five freshmen. I definitely expected better production from Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein. Starting a freshman point guard produces roller-coaster results unless you are John Wall.”
Tyler Thompson, Kentucky Sports Radio: “Pretty much a 180. If you had told me Kentucky would finish the regular season unranked after going in as No. 1, I would have said you were crazy. This freshman class was heralded as the greatest in college basketball history, and everyone, from Cal to the media to fans, bought the hype, in part to erase the memory of last season’s NIT loss. Looking back, it’s clear that these freshmen aren’t as talented as we thought, and Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein haven’t matured into the veteran leaders that been so crucial to Calipari’s teams in the past.”
Mary Jo Perino, former WLEX-TV anchor and current Comcast Sports South contributor: “Absolutely nothing. I never believed they would go 40-0, but if you asked me which was more likely an undefeated season or 10 losses, I would have said undefeated every time. It’s not over yet, but I never really imagined myself being apathetic in many ways about this team in March.”
Mark Buerger, WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk: “Short of a complete disaster, but certainly a major disappointment. I always thought the 40-0 talk was dumb, and I thought the team would struggle early, especially against this schedule, but I had really figured that by now they would have things figured out and be playing up to their talent level. They just aren’t.”
Jennifer Palumbo, WKYT-TV news anchor: “I had high hopes for this group of incredibly talented players even though most of them had never played together. This is a such a young team trying to come together in a short amount of time, and this season shows talent alone isn’t always enough to win.”
Tom Leach, Kentucky Radio Network and Leach Report: “It was hard to imagine a team so reliant on freshmen would be able to avoid some bumps in the road but there was so much hype for this group that it was hard to avoid getting caught up in the expectations that were unrealistic for that circumstance. Hopefully, we’ll all remember that for future situations. But when that expectations bar was set so high, this team was set up to fall short. My broadcast partner, Mike Pratt, thinks they’ve been dealing with that as far back as the Baylor game in early December and I salute Calipari and his staff for finding a way to relieve that tension prior to last week’s SEC Tournament.”