“Just wait til March.”
That’s the Kentucky fan rallying cry whenever John Calipari-led teams stumble early or even in the middle of the season. It’s the belief that even though it looks bad now, the team is learning and improving and we’ll still see the fruits of that labor come tournament time.
Every year it has paid off with at least an Elite Eight appearance. Every year what little patience Kentucky fans have is rewarded.
But not this year.
Sorry, I’ve seen enough. Find out how much NIT tickets cost, because that’s where this Wildcats team is heading come March.
I don’t fully blame the players. They are young and new, and “the veteran leadership of Kyle Wiltjer” is a sentence that makes me laugh so hard that milk comes out my nose.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This team has underachieved even if you have kid-glove expectations. And I have a few things I need to get off my chest.
Will someone grab a rebound? Over the past two games, Kentucky has given up 35 offensive rebounds, with an emphasis on “given up.” There’s a difference between the other team fighting for a rebound and just handing them one.
Wiltjer isn’t just bad defensively, he actually makes whoever he is guarding better with just his presence. I don’t care who it is or where they are on the court, if Wiltjer is on them, the ball is going in. Opponents are practically shooting 105 percent against him.
Alex Poythress, your confidence is so shot at this point that complaining about you feels like kicking a puppy. If you actually played to your potential more than just once or twice a game, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Have you seen this guy lately? I miss him.
Ryan Harrow is soft. A Vanderbilt player kind of ran into him, and he went down like he had been shot, writhing around on the floor. The difference between him and notorious injury actor Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is that Harrow actually believes he’s hurt. When it’s all said and done, I don’t need someone this mentally and physically weak running the team.
Nerlens Noel…you’re cool. I’ve been happy with your progress. One thing, though: God made you 6’10" and long. Stop swiping at the ball below your waist. I know you love your steals, but we seriously need to put a shock collar on you to give you a jolt every time you get caught reaching.
I’ve got other gripes (Willie Cauley-Stein runs around like a chicken with his head cut off; Julius Mays thinks he’s a better player than he really is; Archie Goodwin likes to give the other team the ball almost more than his own teammates). But I’m too tired of this team to keep going.
The only good thing I can say about this team is that maybe they’ll be so bad a couple of the freshmen will stick around to join next year’s group of superstars. I wouldn’t argue with Poythress and Goodwin playing the roles of Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, respectively.
I really hope I’m wrong, that this group will pull together and make a run similar to the one the 2010-11 team did. Just getting to the tournament would feel like a victory.
But I doubt it.