1) What is Eric Bledsoe’s roll on this team?
I think the Indiana game yesterday showed us that when a team zones the Cats, Bledsoe is going to be the guy the Cats rely on to hit the outside jumper. But, he also has more turnovers than assists, and AT LEAST 4 fouls in 5 of the last 9 games. There is no doubt that Bledsoe has tons of talent, but what is the best way to use that talent? Should he come off the bench and sub in for Wall, limiting his minutes to 10-15 a game. Should he completely focus on playing the 2-guard, and become the shooter the Cats need? Whatever the answer is, it is certainly not what has been happening, sans the Indiana game. Bledsoe seems to blend in too often, and go long stretches with only turnovers and no points. But with Wall running the point, I really don’t know how best to use Bledsoe this season.
NOTE: Again, let me emphasize that Bledsoe was FANTASTIC yesterday, and I hope that play continues. If it does, then this no longer is a question for the Cats.
2) Can Orton and Cousins stay out of foul trouble?
Out of a possible 100 fouls that Orton and Cousins could have used at this point in the season, they have actually used 66 of them. When you consider that Stevenson and Harrelson are next in line, that is worrisome to me. Both guys have shown incredible skill for their size, but if they are off the floor, it doesn’t really matter. Up to this point, Cal has done a good job of mixing these guys in and out, but the Cats are playing with fire when it comes to the foul trouble of its big men.
3) Will Darius Miller become a scoring threat?
Despite what some have said, I have actually liked Miller’s aggressiveness this season. When he gets an open look from three, he has been taking it. And when has had an open look to the hoop, he has been driving hard. But, the problem this year for Miller is he just isn’t hitting shots. He is shooting 41% overall, and 32% from three. Obviously, Miller doesn’t need to be an offensive force with Wall, Cousins, and Patterson on the floor. But, he needs to be a threat, and right now I think teams are willing to let Miller shoot the outside shot. I think as the season progresses, if Miller becomes a more consistent offensive weapon, the Cats automatically become the title favorites.
4) Can this team consistently score in the halfcourt?
In transistion, this team is absolutely unstoppable. They are the best team in the country running up and down the floor. But, the ability to create baskets in the halfcourt, sans John Wall, is a real concern for me. Let’s be honest, there will be somebody along the way who will slow down the game to a crawl, and up to this point, the Cats have struggled to score in that type of setting, especially when Wall is not in the game. My thought is that in a halfcourt setting, the ball should IMMEDIATLY go into the post, whether its Cousins, Orton, or Patterson. There was absolutely progress in this area yesterday against Indiana, but the many of the Cats points (34) came off 2nd chance, which means the Cats were not hitting their initial shot in the halfcourt as much as I would like.
5) Is Cal going to wear thin on the UK fanbase?
Look, without John Calipari, this team doesn’t exist. He is a large reason why the team is undefeated. But, I gotta say, the whole “we suck” and “we are a 4-5 team” is growing real old to me. There has not been a single game where the Cats were lucky to win. I am not saying that they have played well every game, but Cal makes it seem like the Cats have been LUCKY, while I think they have earned every single win. And I don’t even bother to listen to the post game Tom Leach interview anymore, because rather than chat about the game, its more like a lecture or sermon on how to be a fan. This is probably the most knowledgeable fanbase in the country, and we are a bit much sometimes, but we do understand basketball and how good this team is. We understand this team is national-title caliber, and we don’t need to be told we are wrong. I wish Cal would enjoy the ride and enjoy the fans, rather than act like he is almost struggling to enjoy the success.