It’s safe to say Kentucky’s season has been a disappointment through the first six games.
As if the Duke loss wasn’t bad enough, Kentucky has looked far from being a top-10 team in pretty much all of its wins this season. They’ve struggled to pull away from teams like Winthrop, VMI and Tennessee State, all of whom rank 167th or lower in KenPom’s ratings.
So, what exactly happened to the team we saw in the Bahamas?
Perhaps it was just a mirage, and what this team really is will be a work in progress for longer than anticipated.
One thing is for sure, and that’s John Calipari is resetting expectations for the 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats.
During his Tuesday meeting with the media, Calipari stressed that it’s time to throw the preseason hype out the window and accept that this team isn’t what we thought they’d be, at least at this stage of what’s still very early in a long, grueling season.
Calipari even admitted this team is in a similar position as last year’s Kentucky team, which struggled early on against even lower-level competition. And just like last year, a big culprit has been the defense, which continues to be a major work in progress.
“We’re in the same position we were in (last season). I should have known this early. I should have seen this in the summer. I got enamored like everybody else (with the Bahamas trip). And now, it’s how do we get better defensively.
“It’s a process.”
Calipari admitted he hoped this team was further along than he’s used to, but alas, reality has set in.
”The question I have is, is there ever going to be an easy year for me? Like, just one year, be a team that I can sit there and — every year is a grind.”
While Kentucky has struggled to live up to its preseason hype, that’s no reason to give up on this team, especially just six games in what hopes to be a 40-game season. This team still has the pieces to make a deep run in March.
Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how they fit together best and how to effectively use them. Early-season games against lower-level competition is the perfect time to experiment, but it needs to start producing better results if Kentucky is going to do well against a December schedule that features Utah, Seton Hall, Louisville and North Carolina.