“Woman and Man Seated Back to Back” sounded a lot better than “Pissy Upper Class Couple With a Crippling Sense of Entitlement”
Quick question for you: What if Enes Kanter had been eligible? We bemoaned and belabored that very issue a year ago, but it hasn’t come up lately. But think about it. If he had been eligible, it’s possible we could have gone back-to-back. True, we may not have had the Jorts phenomenon, but there’s a very real chance it would have been replaced with a championship. We would have gotten #8 last year, instead of this year. Does that mean that we would have repeated this year? Well, maybe not. Sometimes losing those tournament games have unexpected benefits.
I think, no, I know that the lockout and overall draft position had a lot to do with Terrence Jones’ and Doron Lamb’s decisions to return to school this year, but I can’t think that winning a championship their freshman year wouldn’t have made them consider leaving a little more strongly. National Championships tend to do that to players. Probably. We’ll see in a couple weeks. But say we won it all last year… Do you think we’d have Jones and Lamb again this year?
Very real chance we wouldn’t.
And that’s the issue I’m struggling with. I’m of the opinion that the annual “Wildcat Reload” may be too quick. I propose instead that we need a two-year cycle. Say we start four freshmen and a transfer next year (which is a distinct possibility). Can we win a title with that team? I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I just don’t think so. If there’s one thing the past three teams have had in common, it’s a steadying upperclassman presence. That presence doesn’t have to be large, and it doesn’t always have to be the best player on the team; in fact, it hasn’t been. Wall and Cousins were both better than Patterson, even though Patterson was maybe one of the highest “character guys” in the last decade, and had the talent to go along with it. Knight was the best player on the team last year, with Jones arguably right behind him. And this year? Well, nobody’s gonna say that Davis and MKG weren’t the two best players on the team.
So it’s proven that Championships can be won when the best few players on the team are freshmen. Cal and Co. just settled that one, thank you very much. But can it be won when practically ALL the core players are in their first year? We may have to find out next year. Our most recent title (if you can remember it, it happened so long ago) was won with a “starting six” that was split evenly between freshmen and upperclassmen. 3-and-3. Next year, counting Harrow as a freshman because he hasn’t played an official game yet, we’re looking at 5-1, or even 6-1. And that one is a sophomore. I just think it’s too much, too fast. Maybe we should mix in “four-year” players with those we know will be “one-and-done” in every recruiting class. Or even *gasp!* NOT get the top recruiting class every year, just to have some guys stick around to keep the balance.
I think Cal may be on the same page, but the recruits don’t always do exactly what you’d expect. I’ll bet if you asked him in 2009 where he thought Daniel Orton would be this year, he’d have said Kentucky. Orton would be getting ready for his senior year, and he’d probably be a pretty good post player for us. Eric Bledsoe might even have stuck around if his situation were different, and imagine the point guard he would be. This year, Kyle Wiltjer’s back to grace us with his terrific three point shooting, and we have Willie Cauley to look forward to, who I’ll bet we get for a few years. So there is that effort there to get the guys who will be here to learn the system, I just don’t know if it’ll be able to keep up.
At this rate, I don’t see how we can go back-to-back with such a high turnover. I’m not saying unequivocally that it can’t be done. I know better than that. But looking at next year, I just don’t see how. There’s just too much youth.
Unless we get Nerlens and Shabazz. Then all bets are off.