Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tennessee 88 - 58 Kentucky

All season, UK has been fortunate to have played a relatively easy schedule, and to have played a bunch of teams that were so limited on offense.  Game after game, the Cats have given up lots of open looks and offensive rebounds, only to be saved by the fact that so many teams just can't shoot.  They were also saved by Nerlens Noel, who prevented countless easy baskets at the rim.  Thus, even when they played badly, they could hang around and keep it close.

But Noel is no longer on the team, and today the Cats ran into a red-hot Tennessee team that showed them absolutely no mercy.  Of course, those of us who have watched UK play Tennessee for decades didn't expect any mercy, but our guys have gone into every game with the hopeful attitude that somehow, someway, everything would work out.  I think, once UT was up something like 31-12 halfway through the first half, our guys finally realized that things don't always work out.

One would like to say, at this point, that the young Cats -- humiliated by their poor play and knowing that the nation was laughing at them -- fought back with great spirit.  But, of course, if they had had great spirit, they wouldn't have been down 31-12 to begin with.  In fact, they never made any sort of run, and the Vols cruised home with what may be the easiest win over Kentucky they have ever had.

At least we won't have to see these ridiculous uniforms again that the Cats wore today.

Over the next month or so, I expect we will get a lot of coverage of UK's disappointing season, from both the local and the national press.  Here are some questions that I would like to see answered:

1.  As of today, reports that in the 2013 draft, Willie Cauley-Stein is expected to go number 10, Alex Poythress is expected to go number 19, and Archie Goodwin is expected to go number 20.  Why, then, have they played so badly for UK?  Were they over-estimated by the scouts?  If so, why?

2.  Why did Coach Calipari allow Ryan Harrow to transfer to UK from N.C. State, and why did Calipari make Harrow his starting point guard?  Was the original plan that Harrow would serve as a back-up to Teague this season, or did Calipari really think Harrow was a great talent?  For that matter, was this team built on the assumption that Lamb and Teague would both return to play guard?

3.  Given that UK's on-ball defense has been laughable for most of the year, why don't we ever try a zone?  Why didn't we switch to a zone once Noel was lost for the season?

4.  With the exception of Nerlens Noel, isn't Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes significantly better than every other player on our team?  Why isn't he listed on any draft boards?

5.  Why is UK unable to create turnovers on defense?  And why do we throw so many lazy passes on offense?

6.  Coach Cal constantly talks about getting "50-50" balls, that is, loose balls that are available to either team.  Given this fact, why are we so terrible at getting those balls?  Has there been a game all season where the Cats got even half of the 50-50 balls?

7.  Why can't UK prevent offensive rebounds?  Are our players physically overmatched?  Are they failing to block out?

8.  Was it a mistake to do that ESPN show before the season started?  Did that interfere with our preparation?

One final comment:  I know that there will be a lot of anger toward this team in the Commonwealth, and if they come out in their next game at Rupp, and play like they did today, things will get ugly.  Kentucky isn't just the winningest college basketball team of all time, it is a program that was built on heart and effort and determination -- and UK fans will be rightfully furious at the lack of effort shown on so many plays today.  Having said that, I feel sorry for Goodwin and Poythress and Harrow.  Almost everyone, at some point in their life, realizes that their talents are just not as great as they would like them to be.  Many people experience this in elementary school -- some don't have that feeling until they start their working lives -- but it is a very painful experience whenever it happens.  It seems almost too cruel that for Goodwin, Poythress, and Harrow -- three very young men who were dreaming of greatness and riches just a few months ago -- their shortcomings are being highlighted in such a public way.  I'm sure that, as bad as we feel right now, they feel even worse.


  1. That link that I connected to doesn't exactly work. Here's the right one.

    I don't think Goodwin, Harrow, Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein should worry about whether they've glimpsed the ceilings of their capabilities; in fact, that's kind of the problem, I imagine. Instead, they just need to quit thinking about that stuff and spend that energy getting to practice 10 minutes early or whatever. Definitely that game Saturday is reason to get depressed; the key is now that they don't. One game at a time. One practice at a time, even. Go, UK.