The Kentucky Wildcats are heading to Lubbock, Texas to face one of their biggest challenges to date. The Texas Tech Red Raiders are a tough match-up for the Cats considering the way they defend and slow down the game.
That match up became even more difficult with the loss of freshman wing Kahlil Whitney. While Whitney’s minutes had dwindled significantly, he was one more body that John Calipari could have used at practice and in case of injury or foul trouble.
The loss of Whitney isn’t devastating but it is very frustrating and concerning. It’s becoming clearer that the reason for his departure was due to the fact that he (or the people around him) was unsatisfied with his role on the time and his decline in minutes.
Whitney released a statement that said the obvious things about Cal, his teammates, his fans, and his experience at Kentucky. It also didn’t say that he planned on transferring. I think Whitney is done with college basketball and will seek a pro career this spring.
The other statement released from his camp was more revealing. His AAU coach spoke to the Lexington Herald Leader and had this to say:
Do you know how many minutes he played in the last five games? (11, 9, 10, one and two minutes),” said Mike Irvin, who coached Whitney in AAU ball. “The minutes probably weren’t there for him to really contribute. ... You got to play some minutes. Why didn’t he play the minutes? Who knows? But, you know, the playing time just wasn’t there.
That’s the crux of the matter. Whitney and his people felt he was entitled to more minutes even though it was clear he wasn’t earning them in practice or during games.
Whitney’s leaving could turn out to be a positive for all involved. Maybe he gets drafted and maybe the team dodged a bullet in regards to the possibility of Whitney’s growing displeasure infecting the locker room.
Now the Cats have to regroup and move on with the guys they have. And that won’t be easy with the challenge they face today.
Tweets of the Day
My guy John Huang is not impressed with Lubbock. Looks gross.
Man. I just filed a bunch of my thoughts on how the Kahlil Whitney decision impacts Kentucky (meh) and how it affects him (perhaps deeply and terribly). One stat I looked up:— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) January 24, 2020
Since December, in 10 games vs. high-majors, UK was outscored by 37 in the 77 minutes he played.
That’s a telling stat. It’s hard to get minutes when you are bringing absolutely nothing to the table.
Calipari likes his team heading to Lubbock | Lexington Herald Leader-Cal thinks his team will fight in a tough environment. They’ve shown fight the last two games, particularly at Arkansas.
Whitney’s decision could have come at a better time | Sporting News- Mike DeCourcy sums up Whitney’s decision succinctly as “pointless”. Could not agree more.
Texas Tech providing free beer for students before game against the Cats | Cats Pause- I can see this ending well. What a great idea! Calipari was taken aback by the news. Still...game on.
Willie Cauley-Stein traded to Mavs | ESPN- The former UK All American is now with a playoff contender and one of the best players in the NBA.
4 big position battles for Kentucky Football | Saturdays Down South- Quarterback tops the list as we are unsure if Terry Wilson will be ready by fall camp. There are interesting options with Beau Allen being a new face that people will be curious about. If Joey Gatewood can become eligible then that would erase some worries.
CBS top 25 picks | CBS- The Cats are +5 but the experts at CBS like them to cover and win.
Sizing up the SEC/Big 12 Challenge | ESPN- Most of the ESPN talking heads like Tech. And I found this to be extremely comical with all that is going on at Kansas: when asked which coach he would take to win a game, Myron Medcalf gave this answer: “Give me Kansas coach Bill Self and Baylor guard Jared Butler. I would trust Self’s experience in a moment like that.” Bill Self has been so cool under pressure.