Here we are, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation; trying to win the first game of the post season in two years. After 2012, would anyone have figured we'd be in this position? I guarantee you I'd have given 100-1 odds on that bet on the way back from New Orleans. Regardless, that's where Kentucky finds itself as it gets ready to tip off against the LSU Tigers.
I am as anxious as most of the rest of you to see the "tweak," but I'm prepared to be underwhelmed. What I really want to see is some team basketball, and based on Kentucky's performance in the last few games, that would be more like heart surgery than a tweak. Having said that, I am excited to see it and hoping for the best.
Essentials for victory
Minimize turnovers — If you read my pregame, you know that Kentucky is barely over .500 when they turn the ball over 20% of possessions or more. There is a reason that 20% is my threshold for concern.
Offend somebody — Seriously, who would have thought this team, a team that started out one of the best offensive teams in college basketball, would be averaging less than 1 point per possession over their last five games.
Pass the ball — Just one game. Just to see what would happen.
Use their length — If Kentucky can ever learn to use their length properly, they can doubtless guard the LSU perimeter.
This Kentucky team is individually skilled, but to date they have been merely a collection, not a team. It's kind of amazing, in retrospect, that a team that can go through a whole year less than the sum of their parts can win 22 games — you rarely see that.
We have seen the Tennessee Volunteers gel late in the season. We have seen the Georgia Bulldogs do the same. Kentucky has been stuck in an awful slump, and there seems to be no good reason why that should be. This, however, is an opportunity to forget the past 31 games like good shooters forget a string of missed threes. If Kentucky can do that, they may find that they are stronger than they think.
Tonight, we see the "tweak" and what will likely be a big hint into whether hope remains, or if it vanishes like a mirage in the desert of despair.