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A Cause For Alarm: Nerlens Noel and Vandy

When Nerlens Noel went down for the season we all knew things were going to be bad. You don’t lose the future number one pick & potential defensive player of the year and expect improvement. However, nobody predicted the Cats to head to Knoxville and leave with a 30 embarrassment while looking like a team playing without desire or a will to compete. After a loss like that the only thing a team could ask for is to host a SEC cellar dweller with a 4-8 conference record to try turn things around. Well the Cats get just that this Wednesday when Vanderbilt bring their :ahem: talents into Rupp Arena. But without Nerlens Noel nothing is going to be easy and the Vandy game should not be taken lightly. Why? For that we need to hop in the wayback machine and travel to January 10th for the Cats SEC opener.

The Cats were in Nashville to take on the ‘dores and everything was going according to plan. UK had built a commanding lead and looked to be cruising to a big win but at the 16:48 mark of the second half the game changed. The Cats had a 42- 27 lead when Nerlens Noel was whistled for foul number three and sent to the bench. From that point we saw basically the same things we saw go down yesterday in Knoxville, offensive ineptitude and guys getting to the rim for easy buckets. The next time Nerlens had the ball in his hands the game was tied at 47-47. That’s a run of 20-5 folks, against Vandy.

A similar run was made by the Rebels when we were on the road in Oxford. There we lead 73-56 when Nerlens picked up his fourth foul. In just over four minutes with Noel on the bench Ole Miss had made a 13-0 run and closed the game to just a 4 point margin for the Cats at 73-69. To close out that game Nerlens picked up 5 blocks to secure the win. Against Vandy a big shot by the big man with 18 seconds left gave the Cats a five point lead and the win.

Something has got to give with this team. They can’t play like they have Nerlens in the middle when Nerlens is not in the middle. That’s what lead to the big runs against Vandy and Ole Miss. Wednesday night Vandy should offer up a great chance for the Cats to fix the major issues with the team. The Cats will be more talented in every position but if they don’t play with heart and a will to win then they could get buried by a 20-5 run. As wee saw yesterday those big deficits can be pretty insurmountable. So what do you think? Can the Cats learn to play without Nerlens? Or are we in for a brutally long close to the season?


Article written by Andrew Cassady

Follow me @ACassady_KSR

24 Comments for A Cause For Alarm: Nerlens Noel and Vandy

  1. Ridge Runner
    3:35 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I really don’t think it’s about losing Nerlens. In fact, if it did anything at all…it placed the weakness we already had to full light. PG play and buy in. Both have been there much of this season. Now, we see it without Nerlens masking it. Just a thought.

  2. Dano
    3:35 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    While they CAN play without Nerlens, they have shown they will not. There is a huge difference between what they can do and what they are willing to do. I fully expect at lest two of them to go Orton, and leave aft their last game.

  3. Dano
    3:36 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink


  4. Ridge Runner
    3:36 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    All we can do is keep supporting the Cats and Coach. It’s who we are. Good times & Bad times.

  5. Negative Nelly
    3:38 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Can we get a little hope around here? Seriously…you do realize negative energy can create negative outcomes. How about we instead concentrate on ideas to me Gameday the best in the history of gamedays. It’s the fans turn to make a difference. We are UK!!! Lots of good teams are losing by 20-25 points and they came back around. Fans can make a HUGE difference in the next few games. Spend the next week KSR getting fans excited about Gameday…KSR can make a difference so do it!!!!

  6. Gandalf the Blue
    3:39 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Nerlens going out will give our players a chance to show their true colors. Unfortunately for us that means lazy, selfish, unaggressive basketball with no one to make up for their defensive mistakes on every possession.

    However, anyone questioning whether or not they should still go to Gameday or show up to the SEC tournament should be deported. I am behind Calipari 100% through the good times and the bad.

  7. Fishersblue
    3:39 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I hate zone with a passion, but if Cal doesnt use it almost exclusively the rest of the season then we will lose every game except MSU

  8. Ridge Runner
    3:40 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    5- You have a point sir and I admit I am guilty of some of that myself.

  9. reedwizard
    3:47 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I think we win 2 of our final 6 wins. I totally agree with #1 in that we won with Nerlens in spite of some other guys. It’s just not going to happen this year, to which, I hope Cal is planting the seeds and starts working on the guys we need for next year to come back and making UK a place they want to be and having the others move on. With the way Cal acts at games, I’m not sure any of these guys are going to want to come back.

    We need one of the centers to come back for next year, preferably WCS (I’d hate for Nerlens to come back and get hurt again). We need a power forward really bad for next years team. I think any one of Wiggins, Randle & Gordon gets us that. With Wiggins, you play Kyle at the four for kick outs from him and the twins. If the other guys come then Kyle is off the bench. Can’t wait until next year.

  10. uk9
    3:54 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    alot of talk about nerlens returning.. anyone heard anything else?

  11. Just being objective
    3:56 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I didn’t think we were all that good before he went down . I hate to say it . But without him, we would lose 5 out of 10 against mid-major teams . In short …..they suck.

  12. What he said
    3:59 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    11) see 1.

    I just don’t see us winning. There is too much that has to change. It’s not like one player. It’s 3 players heart and WCS is out of breath before he makes his second trip back up court.

  13. rockatao
    4:11 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I have followed UK basketball for over sixty years and I cannot recall a more inept display than we saw Saturday, at both ends of the court. And, after seeing these guys all year, how do you say we are more talented than Vandy at every poition? Who exactly do you still consider talented on this UK team? Potential, maybe; current talent, NO. I think we win at most two games the rest of the year, first round loss in SEC tourney, first round loss in NIT. And let’s wait and see what next year’s team actually does on the court before we annoint them kings of the world. We expected that from this year’s team but we see how that went.

  14. Negative Nancy
    4:17 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I blame this season on the curse of ESPN. We do a tv show and like the Madden curse, boom, our best player goes down to season ending injury. This is the only year Cal has done a behind the scenes tv show and its the only year he’s lost a player to a season ender. It must be the direct cause. Boom, science.

  15. Calitucky
    4:29 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Listen to me. I’m a genius. We should have been been expecting this type of season before the season even started. If you take a look back at the ESPN series, “Kentucky: All-access” there were a couple of things that stuck out. First, remember who was late to one of the first practices? Harrow (and Goodwin, I think) and there was no remorse, they blew it off. And what were the conditioning coaches yelling at the players? RUN ! ! ! Because the entire team was was half-azz running. Second, Poythress really thought that Big Blue Madness was below him. I recall him saying, “Ummmm O.K. I’ll practice practice” with a very belittling tone. THEN there was the comments that Sean Woods made that everybody got butt-hurt about. So butt-hurt that everybody put so much heat on him he had to back-peddle. IN my opinion (which matters, because I’m a genius) this season is shot unless Poythress, Harrow and Goodwin have a “Come to Jesus Meeting” with them selves and change what is happening between their ears. Poor attitudes spread, so things COULD actually get worse. Yes, worse than a 30 point beat down on the road. Remember, we have to play Florida in a few weeks at home. They could easily stick 45-50 on us. If there ARE cancers on this team. Like real cancer, if you don’t get rid of it, you’ll die. I say cut bait on those three and let’s get behind the boys that are trying. We might still get beatdown, but at least it’d be fun to watch hustle.

  16. Horsepower
    4:29 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I belive all 4 of our players who are in the top 20 of the mock draft will take advantage of the weak draft and go pro. Who can blame them?

  17. Andy
    4:45 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    15> don’t forget Harrow in like his second post game interview AFTER HIS RETURN FROM pussieitus: “I was just yelling something, anything out there because coach wants me to talk as the point guard”.

    WHAT THE HELL??????????????????????

  18. 3cats
    4:57 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    #10 why would he return? Why would any of them want too after what they hear the fan saying and dog them. These are 17 and 18 year old kids, they play just like the freshmen they are. That’s why TJ and Lamb came back, to get better. If we don’t support this team and show up for the Vandy game we only show the rest of the basketball world that our fans are cry babies and only watch if we are winning.

  19. bil
    5:34 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    The real problem without Noel is that Noel was always there to back up the players that were letting the offensive players on the other team drive to the goal for layups and the bigs score inside. Uk has no defense without NOel. I would not be surprised if UK lost every remaining game. Uk has no offensive to speak of. Guard Wiltzer and the game is over. Mays has a jump shot but the other players have nothing unless they can shoot a layup.
    I for one am going to lay back and wait for next season. This one is OVER.
    This evidently was Calipari’s worse recruiting year at UK. But it will get much better next year.
    I am waiting now for football season to see if their game is changed.

  20. Mark Liptak
    5:44 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink


    They’ll win another three regular season games but that doesn’t mean they aren’t soft, mentally weak and selfish. (Some of them…)

    Mark Liptak

  21. bil
    5:46 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    13 you are correct. This is a bad basketball team and no amount of hustling will help. UK fans must come to the realization that right now Wiltzer is only player on the team that can be counted on to score. Without NOel there is no one onthe team that can stop the opponents inside game. Tennesse dribbled through to the goal without anyone stopping them.
    Calipari does not believe in playing a zone or slowing the game down to keep the other team from scoring so much. Next year should be better. Although they will have a freshman big man and not a good veteran unless Stein returns.s
    Harrow is not a great point guard for sure but one is supposed to come next year. UK will not have a shot blocker next year either.
    Let’s all try to go to sleep and wake up next season. Ha

  22. bil
    5:51 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    How would any UK fan like to be a Gopher fan. Ha. And I used to think Tubby could coach. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME.

  23. mudcreekmark
    7:50 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    17)I thought the same thing when I read that comment from Harrow. What that tells me is that he is lacking in leadership and he may not be a “true point guard” like I thought he was. A “true point guard” is one that runs the show no matter how old you are or how small you are as compared to the rest of your team mates. You are the one in the huddle telling them that “we got this” when the going gets tough. A true point guard will take blame for plays that aren’t his fault just to keep up the spirits of the player that just made the mistake. A true point guard drives the lane with one thing on his mind, draw the defense and get someone a great shot. A true point guard does do a lot of yelling, not at his players but to his players. You yell pick, when one of your team mates are getting ready to get wiped out by a pick, yell help when you loose your man or someone else looses his man and they don’t yell it out, you yell out what offensive set you are going to run, you yell out what press you are going to off free throws, you yell out what play you are running out of bounds.They yell shoot to a shooter and keep encouraging him to shoot. You yell “back” when the other team gets a defensive rebound. You yell I got the shooter at the free throw line. You yell block out at the free throw line. A true point guard doesn’t have to make up shit to yell. I was always the smallest player on my team throughout all my days of playing basketball but I was always in control of “my” team and every player I played with knew it was “my” team. And by the way, I always had the least talent of any of my team mates but I had heart and I had hustle.

  24. Jimi
    10:17 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    in for a brutally long close to the season