So can we just talk about how our projected No. 1 seed in the preseason just flushed down the toilet?
Saturday was a very painful loss and it easily, and probably should have been, four losses in a row for the Cats. That is definitely a first for a Calipari-coached Kentucky team. Coach Calipari has used the term 'tweak' in the past, but this year the term that seems to be making its' way around Lexington is 'reboot'.
We don't even need a tweak, we really need to evaluate ourselves and play as a team or back-to-back early exits in March seems inevitable for the Cats.
The Cats need to become more fundamentally-sound for them to turn their slump around.
"We're not passing the ball, we're turning it over, we're making hard plays, we're making cheap plays," Calipari said, "we just kind of got away and we've got to get it back. And at the end of the day, we know how they can play, because we've all seen it. Now we see them at their worst. Now it's a choice: Do you want to be at your worst or do you want to be at your best?" (via SECcountry.com)
This type of quote is not what we should be seeing this time of year. Instead, we should be talking about how UK should be in line for a No. 1 seed. That is certainly not the case. 'AAU ball' has been thrown around by Calipari this year due to his team's selfish brand of basketball. Going 1-on-1 and a lot of isolation plays have gotten us wins earlier in the season, but in the home stretch, those types of wins need a full team effort.
It was good seeing De'Aaron Fox back in the lineup after missing two games in the last few weeks. Turning his ankle against Tennessee and battling a sickness against Georgia really hurt the Cats moving forward. Imagine if Malik Monk wasn't Malik Monk and we're coming off four straight losses? Fire Cal? Stop it.
Fox had a good game offensively against the Gators but got away from what we want to see him to, and that is play stifling defense and drop dimes. No assists against Florida proves that the 'AAU' style of play has made its way back.
Where's Isaiah? If you find him, let the BBN know ASAP! Briscoe had a stellar beginning of the season but has also gone back to his old ways. Not being a consistent shooter has really hurt the Cats, who are trying to avoid their third loss in their last five games. We need Briscoe to be that 'bull' that we are so used to seeing with his strong drives, getting fouled. and fantastic finishes. We haven't seen that in few games and Cat fans are wondering if they will even see that style of play again.
In this team's defense, having a sickness going around can't be a good sign. Mychal Mulder, who was slowly making his way into the rotation and had a few stellar games, but then was sidelined for a couple weeks with an undisclosed illness. Not having an athletic wing and sharpshooter out there along with your floor general will be detrimental to a team that is trying to grow.
We need Fox to distribute and play the defense, we need Monk to be Monk, Bam to scare opponents and dominate the paint, we need Wenyen Gabriel to be that 'x-factor' with his athletic build, and finally we need Briscoe to be the leader that we saw earlier in the season.
We need Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins to be more consistent, because without a bench, no one is going to improve. Bench play has been very inconsistent this year so far and this is just something time in the gym and wanting to get better comes into play. The two veterans and Kentucky kids on our squad have a lot to prove in the last month of the season.
All of those factors were evident earlier in the season, but we have taken a step back, and the only thing we can do is turn to Coach Cal and hope that this 'reboot' turns our season around.
It's crazy to think that a team with five losses could be heading down the wrong path, but this is Kentucky, we aren't used to losing a flurry of games in the Cal era. And when we do, something magical happens and the Cats find themselves back in the mix for a national championship.
So is a No. 1 seed out of the question? No, but a lot of things need to fall in place for that to happen. For that to happen I think the Cats need to win out or win the SEC tournament in convincing fashion because we are not helping ourselves with the selection committee in this point in time. Crazier things have happened, so let's see what the 2016-2017 Wildcats will have in store for us hitting the final stretch of the season.
Let's hope UK's magic will come back at the right time and make our opponents not want to see these Wildcats on the next bracket.