By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
After watching the UK Basketball team lose 69-66 to the Utah Utes Wednesday night in Las Vegas it reminded me of a guitar player I watched play a few years ago. This guitar player was very unique in that he only had one string on his guitar – -the low E string. He sounded really good as long as he played very simple songs. But if he had to play anything complex or difficult the limitation of only having one string was too much to overcome. He couldn’t do it.
That’s what made me think of the UK Basketball game against Utah. They looked like a musician playing with only one string. He’s what I mean.
Early in the game they played extremely poor defense, couldn’t stay in front of their man and gave up plenty of open three pointers and shots in the paint. That allowed Utah to build a double digit lead in the first half. While the UK players were not playing defense they also weren’t playing any kind of productive offense unless they were able to get a rebound and get out in transition.
Their half court offensive sets were horrendous to watch. A lot of dribbling and holding the ball before someone threw up a three pointer late in the shot clock or a drive through three Utah defenders to then throw something up off the backboard. No consistent screening, no moving with out the ball, no reading the defense when they changed to a zone or switched back to man to man. Once again they looked like a musician playing with one string.
And you know, that offense works against weaker teams, against less talented or less physical teams. Against less difficult opponents the Cats can wear down their opponents, get out in transition and ultimately win the game.
But like the guitar player with one string, when the difficulty level improves as it did against Utah and will against Ohio State and U of L, the likelihood of playing well decreases dramatically.
As a team Kentucky struggles in half court defense, they struggle in half court offense, they don’t shoot the ball well from the floor and they don’t rebound well for their size and talent. The only thing they do relatively well is get out in transition on offense.
In most games this season they are “playing with one string” and it shows. Losing to Utah exposed them as an overrated one dimensional team that will continue to lose to average or better basketball teams unless they learn how to actually play a five man game. Playing a lot of one-on-one, either on offense or defense, is not going to cut it. This team doesn’t have the talent level that is required to be able to dominate their opponents one on one.
John Calipari agrees and said as much. He said after the loss to Utah Wednesday night, “My team, more than any team I’ve coached in the last five to seven years, needs each other,” Calipari said. “You have to do your job or we’re in trouble and most of that is battle. We all have to do this together.”
And I would agree with him wholeheartedly, they are in trouble. The players don’t seem to understand the team concept or they refuse to employ it. Either way it puts them in a tough spot.
So watching Kentucky fiddle away with one string while their opponents continue to play a complete symphony is getting to be tiresome music to listen to, even for UK fans.