Once again, CBS Sports asked a bunch of anonymous coaches questions about how Kentucky would fare in 2013. The reactions were ... interesting, to say the very least.
The main point, and supposedly the primary takeaway, was a question of whether or not the 2013 Wildcats would be closer to the 2012-13 NIT team or the 2011-12 NCAA Tournament champions. The results were:
Title team: 87 percent NIT team: 13 percent
While we should be gratified that the overwhelming majority sees this season as an improvement over the NIT-fail, underwhelming mess of a team that was the Kentucky Wildcats last year, we must really ask what the misanthropic 13% is actually thinking. I really can't come up with a plausible answer, unless it is a loathing of Calipari, Kentucky, wishful thinking, or perhaps pure, green-eyed jealousy. There really isn't anything in terms of talent, having the correct pieces, size, depth and strength where this year's team suffers by comparison.
While that in and of itself is pretty striking to your humble correspondent, there is more. And before I get to all that, please avoid hate mail to Jeff Borzello, he's a good guy and just reporting on the results. He gives us five quotes that stood out to him, and it's not hard to understand why. Let's examine the most ... interesting.
"Last year's team had Ryan Harrow. They had no shot from day one."
Is this really something a coach should say about a young man, even anonymously? I'm actually shocked and offended by this. Ryan Harrow was not a success at Kentucky for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which he just wasn't tough enough to play Calipari's style, but also because of his ill father. But this sort of unadulterated player bashing strikes me as evil, even if he might have a point about Harrow's lack of suitability at Kentucky. It's disappointing at the very least, and if I were an athletics director, I might try to find out who this person was so he could be properly instructed in the decorum befitting his position — that, or free him up for other opportunities.
Then there is this:
"Too many egos for even Calipari to handle. I think they have some cancers on the team as well."
Bob Knight, is that you?
This one is offensive also, but for different reasons, and whoever it was had the good grace not to name names. It's worth mentioning that as far as I can tell, this incoming class has nothing like the egos present in the 2009-10 class that included John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, and Calipari somehow melded that team into the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament after the Sweet Sixteen round.
Whether this class has anything like that going on, we really won't know for a while, but there is one thing that Coach Cal has demonstrated pretty convincingly — there is no limit to the number of egos he can manage, and ego management gets exponentially easier with significant depth, something of which 2010 had a bit and last year had virtually none. The bench is a powerful motivator; when you have one, that is.
Credit Borzello for this insight:
The biggest difference from last season will be at the point guard position. Ryan Harrow was expected to be a difference-maker in 2012-13, but the North Carolina State transfer was absent early in the season, was inconsistent when he played, then decided to transfer. He wasn't the Derrick Rose-Tyreke Evans-John Wall-Brandon Knight-Marquis Teague point guard that Calipari is used to. Andrew Harrison will be that sort of player, though. As long as he's cleared to play, Kentucky will have the dynamic playmaker they lacked a year ago.
Not sure where that "as long as he's cleared to play" came from, but he's right about the rest. Notice how he made his point about Harrow without being nasty, like the
cowardly "candid" coach I quoted above. It really doesn't take that much effort not to be an odious douchebag.
The thing that seems amazing is that double-digit percentages of coaches think this Kentucky team will fail — make no mistake, if this team is closer to 2012-13 than 2011-12 with all the talent they have, it will be an abject, undeniable failure, as it would be to a somewhat lesser degree if they only reach the Sweet Sixteen before bowing out of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, as "many" coaches suggested.
Well, that's what "they" say. The biggest surprises, it seems to me, were both the lack of faith in Calipari and the apparent willingness to be disrespectful to specific players, which we really haven't seen much of in this series.
What say you?