Share this:

Guest post: What’s next for the Wildcats?

Kentucky could still have a lot to cheer about in March if it plays the way it did during its four-game win streak. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By JESSICA JONES, Contributing Writer

These Cats have taken us to the near pits of the Calipari era. Multiple home losses. Blown games. Multiple huge scoring droughts. Lackluster defenses. Head scratching turnovers. Freshmen mistakes. And the worst of all, a four game losing streak.

A couple of weeks ago many fans, including myself, thought we would be lucky to win a single game in the SEC Tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament. However, fans (myself included) must always remember it’s never as bad as it seems.

It seems like Kentucky has started clicking at just the right time. This team has a chance for redemption by winning some big games in March. But just when Kentucky starts clicking, fans are reminded that things are never as good as they seem either and the young guys revert to their old ways and get run out of town by Florida.

It’s well known that Calipari coaches for March. So where are these Cats headed? Redemption?

It’s no secret the Cats were clicking prior to the Florida game. Briefly we saw the Kentucky team we have been waiting for. Kentucky had multiple games that had scorers in double figures. That’s a great sign going forward. They had really cut down on silly turnovers until they coughed it up 13 times against UF.

Jarred Vanderbilt has become a rebounding MACHINE but was limited against Florida due to fouls. Kevin Knox has started to become the Kevin Knox we had expected. Hami Diallo has been hitting threes like he’s the second coming of Doron Lamb! But again he went silent against UF.

Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are taking care of the ball, scoring when needed, and tossing out assists. When it’s clicking, it’s a beautiful thing. I love it. I haven’t even mentioned Wenyen Gabriel, who has cracked the starting lineup and lately and is making all the hustle and effort plays, not to mention he has been stroking it from downtown as well.

These are all things I’m excited about as we begin SEC Tournament play and then the NCAA. The Florida loss did damper my excitement a bit as it seems that Kentucky took a few steps back. Playing on the road on senior night, I’m going to forgive them for that one. What I’m really interested in seeing is how we perform in St. Louis. I’m hoping the Florida game has lit a fire under these guys. 

Going into the SEC Tournament, I like our chances. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t make it to Sunday. The SEC Tournament is really important this year. We need to get a couple more Quadrant 1 wins under our belt and we are primed to do that if we can win a few games in the SEC Tournament.

I’d like to say I think we will win it. Of course we can. There’s also a chance we lose the first game. Kentucky has got to play like it played during the most recent four-game win streak. The stagnant offense can’t rear its ugly head or we will be in trouble. The turnovers can’t be abundant. The defense has to show up.

With that said, the fan in me says we will go there and come back SEC Champs. Realistically, I do think we make it to the final game for sure. It’s important for Kentucky win a couple of games this week. I don’t think it hurts us to lose in the final but losing before that would be disappointing.

And then selection Sunday awaits.

If we win the SEC I can see us getting up to a 4 or 5 seed. If we lose sometime before the final game we are staring at a 6-8 seed. We can’t be upset if the committee ships us off across the country. Bottom line is we don’t have enough good wins and too many losses to get a good seed. I think likely we end up on the 5-6 line playing far away from home.

I think this team has all the capabilities to reach the second weekend and maybe more. I haven’t seen UK perform like it should for more than three games in a row, though. My expectation is that this team can reach the Sweet 16. After that it really depends on the draw.

I’ll never bet against Calipari in March. Let’s rally around these guys and hope they give us another great story. Get ready for a great tournament ride.

GO BIG BLUE! 

5 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Who the hell knows with this team. It’s all about their attitude, focus, and desire and all too often they have been lacking in all 3 areas. I can see that happening in December, but not in March. I don’t think they will do much now. I hope with the changes that come after the season is over…departures and new arrivals…that next year will be a more enjoyable version. Time will tell.

  2. One & Done

  3. I can hope that this team does well in this part of the season, but I doubt it. There is to much youth and not enough experience, and no leadership from guys who have been there before. Calipari has his hands full. They may win a game in the SEC tournament, but I don’t think they win the SEC tournament. As for the NCAA, I say this UK team is one and done. I hope I’m wrong, I will gladly eat crow.

  4. Jessica is right that things are never as bad as they seem at the darkest hour, but things are never as good as they appear in the light of the noon day sun.

    This team is what it it, the weakest edition of Cal’s Cats in 9 seasons. They are not in the top 25, which means a legitimate 7 or higher NCAA seed, which theoretically a second round loser, not advancing into the second weekend of play. I have held out all season that this team, based on its start, could develop into a sweet 16 team, but that would be this team’s ceiling.

    In the SEC Tournament, UK starts with the winner of Missouri v likely Georgia. UK split with Missouri, and managed a slim home win over Georgia in January in the SEC opener. Either of them can beat this team in the quarterfinals. If UK manages to win in the quarterfinals, then it is likely Auburn, who is in decline due to personnel losses late in the season. They managed to hang on for the #1 seed, but Tennessee is the class of the conference right now, and they are waiting likely in the championship game should UK get by a fading Auburn.

    UK is 21-10, could be 22-11 heading to the NCAA, and 23-12 at the end of this season.

    Tubby would be proud.

  5. This team could just as easily make the Sweet 16 as they could get beat in the first game of the tournament. They have the talent to make the Sweet 16, but I don’t see the desire or willingness to do what it takes to be a “Team.” They haven’t shown that consistency all year, so I don’t really see them making it out of the first weekend. As I have said before, there seems to be some players that are ready to just pack it in. When you are having to teach “Team” play this late in the season, you need to look at the attitude of the players you have recruited.

Leave a Reply