So what might the 2011-12 version of the Kentucky Wildcats look like? First of all, that requires us to make some assumptions -- who will be around and who will not. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to assume both Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones decide to jump. The number of defections have put them both squarely in the lottery, and it's tough to turn that down. I will also assume that DeAndre Liggins stays for his senior year.
So let's take a look at the roster as it exists today:
|2011 Likely Roster|
|Marquis Teague||6-2||170||Freshman||Brandon Knight||6-3||185|
|Mike Gilchrist||6-6||190||Freshman||Terrence Jones||6-8||244|
First, a disclaimer -- I have no idea if this is accurate. Calipari may add a player, or even two, before the season begins. Right now, he is trying to convince Trevor Lacey and DeAndre Daniels to matriculate to UK, but how that works out is anyone's guess. In other words, this is all speculation.
But moving on, let's see what a starting lineup might look like:
Note that the percentages refer strictly to the backups, in order, and not the starters. I also expect starter minutes to be fewer this year than last. Last year, for example, Brandon Knight played 89% of the available minutes. I doubt we'll see anybody play over 65 or 70% this year, and that would only be Marquis Teague. As the only true point guard available, he will be out there more than anyone else, I would suppose. Lamb and Liggins can both back him up. I suspect most starters will see between 60 and 65% minutes with the backups sharing the rest. That will be a novel approach for Calipari, but given the depth and talent he has to work with, I expect that's what will happen.
I think Liggins will see starter's minutes at a variety of positions, much like he did this year. I think Wiltjer and Vargas will take turns spelling Davis, and I expect Davis to rotate between the 4 and 5 when UK wants to go big. The great part about this team is how interchangeable the parts are, similar to last year. Note that right now, the 'Cats are still a fairly thin roster at 11 players, and that includes Polson, who was originally slated to be a walk-on. I expect that Calipari will try very hard to add at least one more player. We could use a bit more depth in the front court, and a bit more shooting in the back court.
But overall, I think this team matches up superbly with anyone in the nation, and athletically, they really are unbeatable. Tyler Zeller may think he can outrun Anthony Davis, but after what I saw in the Jordan Brand Classic, I am confident that will not happen. I am also confident that Zeller cannot shoot over Davis, which makes the North Carolina Tar Heels game very interesting to say the least.
Another thing that really excites me about this UK team is the versatility it presents from an offensive standpoint. Big guys can shoot the three, small guys can slash as well as shoot, Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins are matchup nightmares, Anthony Davis is a terrific finisher near the rim and Gilchrist rebounds like a power forward, even though he has a small forward's size and quickness.
How you match up with this team, I have no idea. If Knight and or Jones happen to return, it becomes impossible.