UK basketball fans are in the dumps these days, including me.
Adolph Rupp has probably turned over in his grave.
The beloved Rupp never had a team that started the season 1-3 with three straight losses. He had only one season in which his team lost three straight games: That was the year 1966-67 when UK finished 13-13 – winning their last game against Alabama to avoid their first-ever losing season. UK lost three straight twice that season.
The Cats recovered the next three seasons, finishing in the top five nationally each year.
Only one UK coach has ever lost four straight games to start a season – Joe B. Hall in 1984-85 (started 1-4 and finished 18-13).
But this current UK team could break several loss records unless it shapes up quickly.
This is actually the first time John Calipari has suffered two double-digit losses to unranked, nonconference opponents while coaching an AP Top 25 team during his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
I have never seen a UK team look so disjointed.
Surprise, surprise. Georgia Tech threw a zone defense against UK. So, why shouldn’t they – UK was 3/31 from the 3-point line against Richmond and Kansas.
Even when UK recovered to hit 8/18 three pointers against Tech, they threw the ball away 21 times to make up for it.
Blame it on youth if you want, but I put most of the blame on Coach Calipari. The Cats showed no real zone offense. Players often stood around near midcourt, mindlessly passing the ball back and forth ineffectively. Where was the cutting, driving, screening and off-the-ball movement to counteract a zone defense?
Maybe Coach Calipari should have some 5-on-6 scrimmages to get his guys acclimated to zones.
Maybe some of his high school stars are not quite as good as advertised. Press clippings don’t win ball games.
Last season UK handled Tech well, winning by 15. What a difference a year makes.
It appears UK’s rotating door system may be facing its first big failure, but there’s still time to turn this thing around.
(Ken Mink is a former Herald-Leader sportswriter, 56-year journalist and author. He is a native of Vicco, near Hazard).