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March Madness is one month away–Where are the Cats?

Thanks to for the fun graphic.

Today is February 17th. In one month, the Cats will play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tell me, is that one month comforting or terrifying to you? I haven’t decided.

Around tournament time, there is a lot of talk about “identity” and what it means in the postseason. Does this Kentucky team have an identity yet? Maybe, but I’m not so sure I like it. Let’s take a look at their distinguishing characteristics:

1) Poor play on the road (duh)
The Cats’ 1-5 SEC road record is pretty abysmal and telling of the team’s weaknesses. However, even though an “L” will always be an “L” (right, Loserville fans?), part of me wants to argue that the Cats are showing some signs of improvement. At Vandy, they managed to put together 35 minutes worth of decent basketball before their inevitable “5 minutes left” freak out (more on that later). And finally, after four passes of hot potato in the final few minutes, not one, but two Cats stepped up to make plays (Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones). Granted, they weren’t the prettiest or most well-thought-out plays, but the effort at the end saved me from leaving the arena totally depressed.

2) Brandon leads best
Get this man a white horse! If there’s one thing we’ve learned about this team lately, it’s that we play best when Knight steps up. In the second half against Mississippi State, Knight led the Kentucky charge, scoring 11 of the team’s 21 points and assisting on eight more. As Jimmy Dykes reminded us several times on Tuesday, Knight is smart (I’d take his iambic pentameter over C.J. Leslie’s any day) and I’ll be honest, watching him call plays and communicate with his teammates is a comforting sight these days.

3) Doron needs defense
It’s no secret that Cal has been frustrated with Doron Lamb lately for his lack of effort on defense. It was good to see Lamb step it up on both sides of the court vs. Mississippi State. As a team that runs on the slender side, Kentucky will need every quality minute it can get from Lamb–on both sides of the ball. If it helps, Doron, I hear they’ve been making fun of your pedicure.

4) DeAndre is the glue guy
I hate using sports clichés, but “glue guy” is pretty hard to resist when it comes to DeAndre Liggins. This team needs a veteran presence to steady the ship when the going gets tough–I think Liggins is that guy. He energizes the team through defense, and is beginning to bring that same intensity to his offensive game, driving the lane and searching for shots. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that one of the reasons the Cats struggled at times vs. Mississippi State was that Liggins had an off night. I blame the SkyCam.

5) The “Five minutes left” freak out
This team needs a lesson on how to finish (no thanks, Rick). Against Mississippi State, they exposed several weaknesses in the last few minutes of the game, including getting the ball inbounds, poor shot selection, and sloppy turnovers. Did anyone else see these as big red flags?

The way I see it, this team is in the latter part of its angsty teen phase: full of promise, but prone to stubbornness and mood swings. The big question heading into this weekend (and more importantly, at Arkansas on Wednesday) is, do they build on the positives from the last few games or wallow in their weaknesses?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

15 responses to “March Madness is one month away–Where are the Cats?”

  1. darryl isaac

    Hopefully march is the cure all and they come together and make a run at the final 4

  2. MikeInLexington

    Luckily they only have 2 road games left including march. They are 2 different teams and the good one of those 2 can beat anyone on a neutral court, hopefully we will not have to travel far and we can make those games semi-home games.

  3. old_school

    “The way I see it, this team is in the latter part of its angsty teen phase: full of promise, but prone to stubbornness and mood swings.”

    Well what do you expect from angsty teens?

    This March – Guys like Davis, Gilchrist, Teague and others are prepping for the senior prom.
    Next March – these same guys will be prepping for a tournament run.

    That’s a lot to ask from young kids and for UK fans to reasonably expect them to survive and thrive for six straight games in March and early April is completely unreasonable.

    Of course – by July half of them will be up on a NBA stage and Calipari will claim that’s what it’s all about.

    Do UK fans really agree that it’s all about the draft?

  4. Matt Jones

    Doron on defense is huge…he has been very weak this year

  5. GoCats2

    Ms. Thompson, Does Matt Jones showing up in your comments section feel the same as being a teacher and having the principal sit in on your class?

  6. Cal Purnell here

    I think you gotta attaboy uhhhh attagirl from matt.

  7. Logan

    1. Final four wow. Put down the pipe. I think someone is going to mop the floor with us in the second round……but I hope not.

  8. elstie01

    Final 4. LOL!

  9. bosshogg24

    The one thing this team needs is the PRESS! The press won the Miss.St. game. I know we don’t have the depth to press all the time but Cal needs to use it in spots. It entergizes our players and turns the other team over.

  10. Yea

    Id like to press more as well but we don’t have enough legs to press during a tourney when you only get one days rest.

  11. Viren

    #9 I was thinking same thing I know we can’t press the entire game but throw in a press for few possessions here and there see what happens. This team is very good on the open court but we have got to turn other team over in order to get those transition buckets. I think Lady Wildcats play very good pressure defense.

    You heard it here first, I really think Kentucky is going to do quiet well in the NCAA tournament. We have been so unlucky in so many games this year in the regular season, I think Cats will pull out some close wins in the NCAA tournament and make a deep run. Wildcats scored 80+ points against Mississippi State and Liggins only had like 2 points in the entire game.

  12. Soap MacTavish

    #11 – 81 of our 83 points came from Miller, Lamb, Knight, Jones, and Jorts. And Liggins even had our first bucket. Crazy.

  13. ukfaninwv

    I think our biggest problem down the stretch is we start slowing the tempo down and stop being aggressive. I know we want to use some clock but we tend to get very passive and it takes us totally out of our offensive groove and we start turning the ball over. Just keep doing what was working.

    As far as the tourney, I’m apprehensive yet optimistic. We have lost so many close games that I feel it is our time to win a few. Hopefully that happens in the tourney.

    GO CATS!!

  14. Photoman

    You misspelled NIT. An 8-8 SEC team will not get in.

  15. Scott Baker

    I think we all need to realize that you’re not going to get 1 and done multi year NBA all stars in every freshman class. Since UK is always playing freshman now, we’re just not as good.

    This year’s freshman class is no where near the level of last year’s.