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Kentucky Basketball Is A Gambit Under John Calipari

Happy Hour ruminations on the current UK basketball regime.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari's record at Kentucky speaks for itself. In his four completed seasons at Kentucky he has taken his teams to the Elite Eight, the Final Four, the National Championship, and a first round loss in the NIT. Arguably, two of those teams underachieved (albeit to very different degrees), one overachieved, and the other fulfilled its promise. This year's team could unsurprisingly make a deep run or unsurprisingly lose in the first round. Nonetheless, it's a five year track record that other fanbases envy.

This afternoon, SVP & Russillo opened their show talking Kentucky basketball. SVP posed this hypothetical question: as a fan would you want your program to be like Michigan State or like Kentucky? One team is captained by a widely respected coach and develops its players over 3-4 years. The other team has a contentious coach and players that are usually only around 1-2 years. If the sole metric is post-season success, the answer becomes obvious when you compare track records.

UK fans expect titles. After that, priorities among the BBN faithful likely vary, but under Calipari there will be as many titles as there are forgettable seasons. This is due to several factors but largely it boils down to his recruiting success and the current NBA collective bargaining agreement allowing players to go pro after one season out of high school. Thus, some years will feature cold-blooded teams whose entire existence is comprised of methodically dismantling their adversaries as simply as you or I would scramble our eggs in the morning. On the flip-side, that also means there will be seasons which are...less pleasing. But don't fret BBN 'cause existence is a flat circle. The past is prologue.

That's a way of saying some years' crop of high school seniors will be mature, athletic studs who are capable of immediately leading a team to a title like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Anthony Davis. Other seasons will display freshmen who in fact play just like freshman usually play: low basketball IQ, slow starters, neglect to extend leads, and habitually playing down to the level of their competition.

Annual roster turnover allows UK to reload every year. You don't like the current year's results? Well, then just wait a bit. If the fanbase does like the results then the gamble paid off, and UK was able to hang either a Final Four or a National Championship banner in Rupp.

This is our reality under the current regime. Cal isn't changing and the NBA collective bargaining agreement will probably run through at least 2017. The high variance in UK basketball will not change in the near-term barring Calipari moving on after next season.