This is the second part of our round-table series about the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team at this point in the season. This week, we will only deal with two questions, and later we'll look at a couple more.
In this part, A Sea of Blue's writers are responding to a completely different question. As before, try to keep the links in the other posts and keep this one on topic. Also, please understand that there is no "right answer" to this, and while you are free to disagree with the opinions below and in the comments, you should not belittle or mock any of them.
"If you could change one thing about this team by borrowing one player from a previous UK team (within the Calipari era), who would it be and why?"
JC25: It's just too easy to wonder: "what if" this squad had even average point guard play? Who wouldn't love to see John Wall, Brandon Knight, or Marquis Teague on the floor? Ah but instead, I'll go another direction. Give me DeMarcus Cousins. Check out Kentucky's Four Factors report, and the one area they're struggling equally with on both ends of the court is rebounding. Never mind Cousins' versatile low-post scoring, innate ability to draw fouls, or intimidating defensive presence. Just seeing him gobble up rebounds on this board-averse team would be a sight for sore eyes.
A2D2: Can I pick Randall Cobb? :-) Unfair to ask, but I would have to go with Patrick Patterson or Darius Miller You can choose either one. We need an experienced starter because we are really young. High school youth. Not all 18 and 19 year olds are created equal.
JLeverenz: Add Patrick Patterson. Power forward is a position of need on this team as Wiltjer is more outside-oriented and Poythress hasn't demonstrated the kind of continual effort needed to play around the basket. Patrick is an ultra-efficient offensive player, a great rebounder, and a good defender - all things that this team could really, really use at his position. In addition, he brings a leadership quality to the team that would be very helpful.
Ken Howlett: Man, that's a darn good question, but for me the answer is easy: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
It's tempting to choose Brandon Knight at the point, or Anthony Davis down low, or Doron Lamb at shooting guard, but this team needs to know what hate-to-lose looks like. And MKG is the definition of hate-to-lose.
As I noted above, this team, in my estimation, has all the parts. They just lack the mentality that no one is going to beat us, because no one is going to out work us. When they learn it takes great effort and focus to win, and particularly to win big games, they could be dangerous.
MKG would bring that toughness, both mentally and physically, as well as the on-floor leadership the squad is sorely lacking. As Calipari once said, MKG will shame you with his hunger to win effort. It's either join in or be embarrassed on national television.
I think the 2012-2013 Wildcats would respond to MKG, and they'd be a much better team for it.
Alex Scutchfield: It would be easy to point to a veteran leader, something this team is lacking, but I am going to go with another freshman. What this team lacks is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. MKG was simultaneously talented and a glue guy. This made him a natural leader and someone whose effort on the court and in practice was contagious. Here was a guy who everyone knew was one year away from being a multi-millionaire. But they also saw how hard he worked to put himself in that position.
Nerlens Noel is a demon on the court. You can’t knock his effort. He also falls into the future millionaire category. Julius Mays has a tremendous basketball IQ. He’s figured out things about the game his teammates are still learning. For whatever reason, the other players aren’t taking cues from these two. For some reason I don’t think this would be a problem if Gilchrist was around.
Glenn Logan: I'm going off the grid here, I expect, and say DeMarcus Cousins. No matter what you think about the Big Cuz, there were two things that were never a problem for him: Physicality and toughness. There was nobody tougher than Cousins on the backboard, and right now, that is statistically where Kentucky's biggest problems are. He was also a very good interior defender.
When Cousins was at UK, he was the second-best offensive rebounder, percentage-wise, in America. He was also third in the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes and was a elite defensive rebounder as well.
What Kentucky lacks more than anything right now, notwithstanding the usual growing pains for a young team, is a guy who can clean the glass, and provide a dominant physical inside presence. Cousins was that guy. Not only that, if you want to put a player on a pedestal and say, "Here's your example for how tough I want you to be," that player would be Cousins. Physically, he dominated people, and the lack of that dominant physical presence is hurting UK the most.
[Editor's note: I didn't read the comments made by the others before adding mine, so I didn't know JC picked Cousins as well as me. Great minds.]
So there we have it. Agree, disagree, or add your player below. Remember, it needs to be one from the teams of the John Calipari era at Kentucky. In the poll below, you can also vote for your pick, or select "another player" and talk about him in the comments. Or pick one of the non-sequiturs for fun. :-)