Excuse me, but I am going to try and put myself in someone else's shoes. I am going to attempt to take on the perspective of that friend of ours who also roots for UK, but they just don’t see things they same way as you. Yes, you know exactly who I am talking about, that person who never has anything positive to say about Coach Cal and UK.
Yep, that fan who was upset that when UK won the title in 2012, UK didn’t have a big enough lead. We all have that fan in our lives. At the same time, let’s not pretend that by writing this article I am being anything other than a troll, but this article needs to be written. I hope it will help us understand that friend of ours better, the never happy, won’t be happy fellow UK fan.
It’s time to make the case for why John Calipari will not win another national championship while coaching the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team. First, let’s examine what he has done in the NCAA Tournament since he came to UK in 2009. UK has won one national championship in 2012, was a runner-up in 2014, and has been to a total of four Final Fours, they have also gone to the Elite Eight a total of 6 times. Those are impressive stats for any coach at the college level.
The only problem is that UK has seen mass amounts of talent come through its doors and quickly exit without a championship. The most frustrating thing as a UK fan is that arguably UK’s best team didn’t even make the championship game when the 2014-2015, 38-1 team, lost to Wisconsin, a loss that all UK fans hate to think about, especially talk about. Even turning on a TV and watching Wisconsin play still makes me sick to my stomach.
UK has had many chances to bring home another title but just can’t seem to get it done. UK was the better team in 2014 when UK fell to UCONN in the national championship game, and if UK beat UNC this past year in the Elite Eight, most people believe UK would have become the favorite to win it all.
So the question must be asked. Why does UK get so close only to fall short?
There are five reasons why Coach Cal won’t win big again at UK.
1. The NCAA Tournament is the hardest path to a Championship in sports.
As random as the tournament is, the constant placement of UK in the hardest brackets only seems to make it more difficult for UK to win a championship. The committee loves to put UK in marquee match ups as early as possible leading to difficult match ups way before they should happen. This past season’s UNC vs. UK game should have been at least a Final Four match up and potentially a championship game.
The year prior against Indiana, UK should not have played them until the Sweet 16 at least! There are countless examples of ridiculous early tough match ups that UK has had to face, while teams like Duke and Kansas are given a cake walk to the Final Four. Unfortunately, as frustrating as this is, Coach Cal cannot do anything to change it.
2. Lack of Experience.
I am not going to argue that experience is the most important factor in teams winning a championship, clearly you have to have talent to get there. The problem is that UK hasn’t had a lot of talented experience. Our most talented players are our youngest players. Yes, we have experienced role players and we won with experienced role players in 2012, but our main contributors are consistently freshmen and will be until the end of the one and done rule. Until Coach Cal can figure out a way to add talented experience to go along with his young talent, there won’t be another title banner hung in Rupp.
3. Coach Cal’s stubbornness.
Let’s be brutally honest for just a second. Coach Cal should have taken out the Harrison twins and at least calmed them down during the final minutes of the Wisconsin game. Ulis and Booker might not have been the answer in that game, but calming the twins down could have been all that team needed. Coach Cal has on multiple occasions let his trust in his players and hate of zone defense cause him to make in game coaching blunders. I love that he trusts his players and it’s part of the reason why he gets the best of the best, but they are kids and sometimes they need the game plan to be changed to help their weaknesses. Even if it is a game plan that he doesn’t like or care for.
4. The SEC is getting exponentially better.
When Coach Cal first entered the scene at UK, SEC basketball was hot garbage, besides Florida. Every season it was an easy pick to choose UK as the favorite, but these times they are a changin. Now you look at the SEC and teams like Missouri and Alabama cracked the top 10 in best recruiting classes for 2017. That’s not including teams like Florida and Texas A&M who will be returning great teams and adding more talent. Not to mention experienced coaches like Rick Barnes at Tennessee, Bruce Pearl at Auburn, Frank Martin at South Carolina (yes, they went to the Final Four last year, it wasn’t a dream), and Ben Howland at Mississippi State. The SEC is improving and this it’s going to make the conference schedule much more difficult, and with young players you have to expect more losses. This is only going to make getting higher seeds in the tournament that much harder, creating even less chances at bringing number 9 to Lexington.
5. Anthony Davis was an anomaly.
Anthony Davis, in many people’s minds, including my own, is already the third-best player in the NBA behind Lebron and Durant. Recruiting a player of that caliber and at a year in which college basketball wasn’t that good helped UK win the championship in 2012. I am not trying to downplay the championship they won, but to be honest college basketball wasn’t very good. I doubt that Coach Cal will ever have the opportunity to coach another player as elite and talented as Davis and this leads me to believe that winning another title at UK won’t happen. Davis wasn’t a normal one and done, he was a transcendent player that came to UK when college basketball was down and UK had enough talent around him to win.
What did I miss? What are other points that people use as fuel for their pessimism? Stay tuned for my next post, “Why Coach Cal will win another title at UK”