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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: 0-1 SEC Starts Don’t All Mean the Same


© Marvin Gentry | USATSI

Despite the fact that playing most SEC opponents on the road will be a challenge this year, that loss Saturday was quite dissappointing for a lot of reasons.  Alabama is still just a middle of the road conference opponent and UK will play many tougher opponents over the next 18 games.  Kentucky blew a real chance to be 4-0 in conference heading into their game at Auburn.  And we saw some regression, albeit for one game, from some guys who had played so well against Utah, North Carolina, and Louisville.  And I think any chance of playing in Louisville for the NCAA Tournament has probably slipped away unless the Cats can pull off some upsets.

So is there reason to panic?  The answer is obviously not.  It’s one game and this team still has plenty of talent and the ability to challenge for the SEC crown.  Since 1992, UK has only lost its first game of the SEC season three times (now four).  Those three instances:

2011: Lost at Georgia 77-70, Finished 10-6 (Final Four)
2006: Lost to Vanderbilt 57-52, Finished 9-7 (2nd Round)
2002: Lost at Mississippi State 74-69, Finished 10-6 (Sweet 16)

On the one hand, each of those teams went on to loss at least six SEC games, something that would be highly disappointing for this team.  On the other hand, you saw a variety of NCAA Tournament results from those three teams.  It’s a small sample size but all of the possibilities for this team are still there, except maybe playing in Louisville.  The talent is there, which it wasn’t on a couple teams up there.  They have shown flashes and are just missing that “something” that great teams have.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

13 responses to “BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: 0-1 SEC Starts Don’t All Mean the Same”

  1. rainman

    This team has given no indication it’s Final Four caliber!

    1. Smyrna_Cat

      No, they have not. Perhaps they will get there.

  2. Smyrna_Cat

    You talk about “regression” but your sample size refers to three games. They didn’t look as good as they did against UL, and they didn’t look terrible against Bama. They just looked flat. This is a young team still trying to figure out how to play with each other. A loss on the road in the SEC … to ANY team … shouldn’t be a major surprise. Bama is long and athletic and hit their shots. It happens. I think this is a good team that will pull it all together. This was not a “devasting loss” as one KSR writer proclaims. It is a loss. A disappointing loss, for sure, but just a loss … on the road … in the SEC. That happens frequently.

  3. KYjellyRoll

    I’ll always support our coach and the Cats. Hoping to see them turn a corner starting now. I’m a true fan through the good times and the bad! Go Cats!

    1. secrick

      The loss was not that big a deal. Ky is going to lose 6 sec games and it still will not be a big deal.Rex said he was worried about this game and he was right. BTI please.

  4. VirginiaCat

    We have to keep things in perspective. Our young stars were playing high school basketball less than a year ago. Yes, they were highly rated, but they were competing against kids their own age and the level of competition was nowhere near what they are facing now. There are very, very few OADs who can leave high school and immediately dominate at the college level. Most OADs require time to grow into their bodies, mature, and benefit from experience. Player rating are more about potential than immediate impact. In my opinion, two or three star players with 3-4 years experience bring more to the table than a freshly minted OAD. Their bodies have had longer to mature and the value of experience is a huge plus. So it is not surprise when a young team loses to a more experienced team. A similar quality Kentucky team with more seasoning would have run Alabama out of the gym. The ideal situation, of course, would be to keep good players long enough for them to mature physically and gain valuable experience. That isn’t going to happen with a “players first” program that stresses quick exits to the NBA. We are left with the reality that our young teams will always struggle as they try to compress a college career’s worth of experience into a four month season. Once in a blue moon we will hit the talent jackpot with a player like Anthony Davis who can hit the ground running. That is increasingly unlikely given the fact that we are now having trouble attracting the best of the best. My point is that our young OADs should not be faulted when they lose to teams like Seton Hall or Alabama. Such loses should be expected. All in all, they are doing really well. They are just caught up in a system that rushes player development at the expense of long term team building.

    1. KYCat4EVER

      SPOT ON VirginiaCat…

      When Coach Cal uses the “PROCESS” excuse, explanation, label (call it what you will), you describe this “PROCESS” very well.

      Does it work?

      Now THAT is the bigger question!

      If we take a look at facts, a pretty obvious conclusion can be made:

      Since Coach Calipari brought his PROCESS to Kentucky :
      – Duke has won TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS
      – UConn has won TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS
      – Villanova has won TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS
      – Louisville has won ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
      – UNC has won ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

      None of the above teams promotes the ONE AND DONE “PROCESS” like Calipari and KENTUCKY, yet…

      THREE PROGRAMS have gained on our NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TOTALS since Calipari arrived at Lexington… and TWO PROGRAMS have kept pace with UK!

      Are we still THE GOLD STANDARD of college basketball? NO!

      Are we gaining ground on UCLA? NO!

      Have we expanded our all time wins over UNC and Kansas? YES!

      The PROCESS and Calipari have given us breathing room over UNC and KANSAS which Billy And Tubby depleted …

      BUT the “PROCESS and Calipari have done little-to-nothing towards advancing UK’s National Championship dominance over UCLA (as he set out to do), nor keeping Duke, or others from gaining on us.

      In fact, the “PROCESS” has resulted in Calipari’s failure to recruit the TOP CLASS the team past two years… and that “feeds his process”

      GO BIG BLUE!

    2. runningunnin.454

      KyCat; sorry, but when did UL win a title in the last 10 years?
      You would be screaming for the coach’s head if we started 8-4 like Villanova, especially losing to Penn and Furman.
      How about UConn, 9-6 losing to two directional Florida schools?
      You would be ready to hang the coaches from a yardarm.

  5. Skooms

    Remember how important the UNC game was to us? That’s how important the UK game was to Bama. They’ve got way too much talent to not be a Tourney team and have underachieved so far this season. Yes UK should have still beaten them, but it’s not a shocking loss.

    1. KYjellyRoll

      Many more significant wins in the sec for Bama puts them in the tourney. I don’t see uk losing 6 league games. This team has talent and the drive to win. They just have to trust each other and not come out so flat. They should play 40 min like thy played the last 2 minutes at Bama

    2. IrishCat

      Alabama’s talent was a lot more than I expected. W/ both teams best 5 on the floor, they were longer than us at every position, and w/ athletes that could make plays. I do believe we are the better team, but they are tough.

  6. Aar

    Your response to adversity defines you.

    IMHO, the Cats have not had enough adversity early in recent seasons. This team has the time to use adversity as a teacher. Looking forward to the results….

  7. VirginiaCat

    I have seen a lot of back and forth between fans who support Cal without reservation and fans who express concern with Cal’s coaching and methods. Me personally, I think that we have fallen for the illusion that a top recruiting class out of high school will translate into a top basketball team in college. That’s possible if you are lucky enough to land true superstars who can contribute immediately and have the added luxury of supporting them with a mix of veterans. That is rarely the case. A top recruiting class guarantees nothing except the possibility that, if you retain the nucleus of the team for three years or so, there is a good chance that you will have something special down the road. Cal’s system favors quick exits to the NBA versus team building, so veteran teams are not in the cards for Kentucky. When Cal talks about a players first approach, he means exactly that. Helping players realize their NBA dreams as soon as possible is more important than the program itself. He is not kidding when he says that the name on back of the jersey is more important than the name on front. Give Cal credit for transparency. Cal’s approach guarantees that there will be bad losses as our players are introduced to the reality of college basketball. The hope is that he can take players with good potential and convert that potential into sustained wins against tough, more experienced opponents. The challenge is to compress four years of college basketball into a single season. That is usually a bridge too far and even less likely now that other schools are landing the best of the best. The choice is whether we want to take a longer approach or go for broke each year and hope that lightening strikes. Cal has been honest in declaring his priorities and placing emphasis on players over program. It’s a take it or leave it proposition. If we continue to accept it, no more complaints about ugly loses or disappointing ends to the season. We will roll the dice each year and hope for the best.