Kentucky Basketball: Random Odds and Ends From Thinking Wildcat Thoughts

I have taken to doing this occasionally as a kind of way to clean out the mental flotsam and jetsum that accumulates over the course of a random number of days. Think of this is mostly ruminations that otherwise would lie around as clutter and eventually forgotten without ever winding up on the page.

What is going to happen to John Calipari's detractors in the media and among the various blogs if, by chance, he manages to pull of what so many hope or pray he won't? How will they explain themselves, and will they finally be forced to admit that he is truly one of the great coaches currently in the college game? The facts leave little room for doubt, but so many are hanging on to the last two rungs -- "He's never won a championship" and "If he does win, it will be vacated" -- that lie before the yawning abyss of having to live in a world where Calipari will inevitably be elevated to the pantheon of great college coaches, I wonder what will happen to them when it eventually does happen? I can't wait to find out.

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Darius Miller is perhaps the most under-appreciated Wildcat I can remember. He does so many things well that he blends into the background and nobody notices him except Kentucky fans. Miller provides a mind-boggling mismatch in almost every game he plays, and I think with a bit of practice, he could be a serviceable point guard for any team in the country. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is similar, which is a big reason why Miller doesn't get the praise he deserves from the media, but Miller can do one thing MKG can't yet -- shoot the ball reliably from every spot on the floor.

Another player that just gets better, but still has a long way to go, is Doron Lamb. If you watched practice the other day, you heard Calipari get on Lamb really hard for playing, "Cool," and watching him, it was easy to see exactly what he means. Lamb simply doesn't play the game with abandon, and even though he can get away with that at this level, when he gets to the next level, that's going to have to change. I counted about four times in a couple of drills where Lamb appeared to be dogging it, and Calipari's scathing sarcasm on TV must have represented a much more emphatic private rebuke.

With that said, Lamb has been doing his job lately on offense. I have often lamented his defense, but it is improving if slowly, and his engagement in the game still comes and goes. Unlike MKG, Lamb is relatively immature, and I wouldn't mind seeing him give college another year to develop physically and mentally. Of course, you have to strike while the iron is hot, so Lamb does need to look carefully at the jump this year if the Wildcats are as successful as we all hope.

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Does it drive anyone but me crazy that Duke is ranked so high at this point in the season with that loathsome defense and completely one-dimensional offense? Has any Mike Krzyzewski team ever been given so much latitude by the media? This is a team that is three games removed from a loss to the Miami Hurricanes (!) in Cameron Indoor! It seems that beating a vulnerable and brain-dead North Carolina Tar Heels team in Chapel Hill more than made up for that ridiculous loss to a Miami team that has exactly one quality win on their entire résumé -- Duke.

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Does it matter if the Wildcats lose a game or two between now and the tournament as far as their #1 seed goes? I say it definitely does. If we drop a game at home, even to Vanderbilt (which destroyed Ole Miss in Oxford two days ago), and then lose another game, say early in the SEC tournament, that #1 seed will definitely be in jeopardy. Kentucky will not get the latitude Duke apparently engenders, and two losses by the Wildcats will largely be perceived as "Freshmanitis" showing up late and a sign of a) the wheels falling off, or b) "Calipari chokes under pressure," or c) "See, told ya bringing in one-and-dones won't win championships." Paranoia? Probably, but that's a checkoff on the application for admission to the Big Blue Nation.

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Well, that's it for now. I'll be working on the game preview next, it should be up in an hour or so as we prepare for the Mississippi Rebels in Rupp Arena later today.

Enjoy your Saturday, and Go, 'Cats!

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