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Bruce Pearl predicts 2-4 finish for UK, blames ESPN’s All-Access: Kentucky

Would you like to know what Bruce Pearl thinks about Kentucky’s struggles this season?  No?  Eh, I guess I don’t really care, either.  But just in case, Pearl wrote a blog for called, “Where does Kentucky go from here?”

The former Tennessee head coach predicts a 2-4 finish for the Wildcats, and he thinks ESPN’s All-Access special deserves some of the blame for the underachieving freshmen:

From my perspective, it is beginning to look like a situation that was set up to fail from the beginning. The one-and-done angle is way past overkill at this point when talking about this team. I’m not going to go there. But I do think this group had its growth stunted early in the season. The ESPN “All Access” shows in the preseason undeniably caught the interest of future recruits, but they also put this group of players in a tough spot.

Guys who had never played a minute of major college basketball were donning the national championship jerseys from the preceding year. They were ranked No. 3 in the AP preseason poll, even receiving some first-place votes. The lights were exceptionally bright for these kids and they had never set foot inside of Rupp Arena for an actual game.

Pearl still believes a reinvented Kentucky can make a run in the SEC Tournament if they focus on improving. He said the overwhelming turnout of UK fans in “Lexington South” (Nashville) will give the Cats a chance to earn the automatic tourney bid.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

54 Comments for Bruce Pearl predicts 2-4 finish for UK, blames ESPN’s All-Access: Kentucky

  1. Matt from Richmond
    2:34 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Bruce Pearl is an orange turd.

  2. Don Corleone
    2:35 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Bruce Pearl speaks the truth. I’ve said this all season and believe it made Sean Woods a prophet.

  3. sifromduckdynasty
    2:36 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    This is the first time I have agreed with Bruce Pearl

  4. FeedMeSeymour
    2:37 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Interesting, I don’t care much for Bruce Pearl, but I can definitely see his point of view. It made me think of the HBO series with the Jets a few years ago. The Sean Woods comment from #2 is also interesting.

  5. Cats Fan
    2:38 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Doesn’t Bruce have a grocery shelf to stock somewhere?

  6. Cat89
    2:38 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I like Bruce, but… this just proves why it takes a special kind of coach to lead the Wildcats. This isn’t your average basketball program. This isn’t even one of the top programs. UK is the pinnacle of basketball programs. There was absolutely no downside to the all access series. Suggesting it has played any detrimental role in this team’s performance is short sighted and a stretch to be even circumstantial.

  7. BigBlueBear
    2:39 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I’m one of the few UK fans that always appreciated and liked Pearl and what he did for the SEC. I hate UT more than anyone, but i always liked Pearl and the amount of respect he always seemed to have for Kentucky and our tradition.

  8. capnmonkey
    2:42 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    The HBO series didn’t CAUSE anything, it just appears asinine now in hindsight. When we are kicking ass its all awesome, when we struggle it seems pretentious. But we can’t really change it, its just who we are.

  9. I Say
    2:45 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I completely agree

  10. exactly
    2:46 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Yep being videotaped for 3 weeks 3 months ago is exactly why these kids are playing with no heart now. The world is full of idiots.

  11. will
    2:47 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    interesting theory by pearl, but that doesn’t explain their poor play in 2013 or why they continue to make fundamental mistakes.

  12. GoCats2
    2:47 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Not buying it. Harrow was absolutely destroyed in the All Access specials so its not like the players had egos after that. This team just has not come together like the teams did the last few years. I still think Poythress has the most potential I have seen in a long time he just doesnt have the heart. Goodwin wants to be good but he just doesnt know how to control it in the game. Harrow never seems like he knows what play they are running.
    I love all Cats but these 3 guys just are not enough to lead a team. They need a Miller, Lamb, or Jones type player. Maybe that will be their role next year if they are smart enough to stick around.

  13. jimp
    2:48 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    He is such a complete fool, who cares what he even thinks.

  14. JaredCarterIsMyHomeboy
    2:48 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I hope hes right. I thought Cal had enough magic in him to make Harrow into a real point guard. Guess I was wrong. It’s a shame this class didn’t have a PG that Cal wanted. I think Cal realizes now though that you can just take anyone and make them a leader, they already need to have that personality.

  15. RICK
    2:51 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Harrow cant play point guard for a big time program. Not sure he would start for any team in the sec. He is probably a great kid but he is just not that good.

  16. BGCatFan
    2:56 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I actually can see where Bruce is coming from. I think it put a lot of pressure on these kids, but all in all there is always a lot of pressure when your playing for UK. Talking about Alex in the All-Access series his “study buddy” put on the image that he was a hard worker and was always willing to go the extra mile and put in the hard work and the little things. Now it looks like he shys away from the spotlight. As this group as a whole, we knew it was a down year, with exception of Noel. That being said, this is perfect group to come back next year and be the leaders of one of the best recruiting classes ever put together, which will be a recipe for a deep run in tourney and chance at 2nd title in 3 years.

  17. kymover
    2:56 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Hey Bruce
    Clean up on Aisle three!

  18. Laker Cat 18
    3:01 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    14. The players have to buy into it too, not just the coach. Evans, Rose, Wall, Knight all bought into it. Teague didn’t at first, but came along as the year progressed. Harrow hasn’t bought in to anything and I honestly think he started looking for a way out as soon as things got tough for him. If you’re not willing to work, you don’t belong here.

  19. SayWhat
    3:02 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Bruce is right in a round about way…Sean Woods was right as well. This is not the same group of guys UK is use to putting on the floor.

    It’s not a knock on the kids though it’s just not the same group. They are more than capable of being UK kids and with time they would be but right now, they are freshman who thought putting a uniform on that says KENTUCKY on the front would yield the same results as the past 3 UK teams.

    They have a chance to build their character for who we remember…it’s their choice at this point but I think they are just too overwhelmed. Give these guys a couple years or even next year and you would see a different group I think. It’s just too much, too early with too many expectations for them to handle.

    It is what it is…

  20. cristoforouk
    3:04 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Disagree. This team played the best at the beginning of the season against Maryland and Duke shortly after the All-Access show. Their decline was way past the ESPN series.

  21. rick
    3:07 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    20, Isnt that about the time Harrow started playing.

  22. tom5673
    3:10 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    completely agree about the one and done bullsh*t. it has reached a ridiculous level. vitale is even talking about how ridiculous it is to have 4 high first rounders on the mock draft boards. there were at least six or seven guys way more nba-ready in last night’s two games. this team needs to band together and get nasty. leave everything they have on the floor. what is there to lose?

  23. ThatGuy
    3:11 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    #5 and #17 – Isn’t he doing work for ESPN now? I’d say your jobs are closer to grocery work than his.

  24. Duuuuuude
    3:19 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I have kept waiting and waiting for these guys to show me something. At this point of the season, I needed to see something…..anything. 2 months ago, I would have ranked Bruce’s comments right there with Sean Woods, but in hind sight I now have to agree. I can’t believe unless they show me. I hope they will.

  25. uk-fan_1
    3:23 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I like what #19 said and agree completly.

  26. Cat89
    3:23 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    #19) I agree they all need to come back and I truly hope they do. That said I would not be surprised if RH, AG and AP do not. They all demonstrate classic signs of being truly unhappy to the point of disgust. I hope I am dead wrong and they are simply just frustrated and understand clearly this was more of an undertaking than the first thought. Mashburn came in with huge expectations, Wall, Bledsoe, Mills, McCarty, on and on. They had what it took to handle it. Expectations comes with being an elite player at an elite University the difference is one’s ability to handle those expectations. Next year’s class would give these young men the insulation they need if they understand they need more time to develop. If they feel otherwise, they are gone.

  27. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    3:26 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    This is PG compared to what the College Gameday crew will be saying Saturday. They will be LOVING on Mizzou the entire broadcast. Time to prove them wrong Cats, put up or shut up.

  28. Johnny
    3:27 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with Pearl that this is a factor. I said it to my friends who laughed. Take a look at the series like Hard knocks as well and look at the production of the teams profiled.

  29. Jim
    3:35 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Pearl is right, but I think we’ll be lucky to go 2 – 4. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went winless the rest of the season ……….

  30. MJ4UK
    3:41 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I totally agree with Bruce on the ESPN All Access Thing…Way too much pressure on these guys. At the same time, they knew that coming in. In classic Cal Speak “I can’t hide you here.” They were warned

  31. UKBlue
    3:42 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    This is some questionable wisdom; by Pearl standard, if the ESPN All Access would have involved the Davis & MGK group, the same thing would have happened? Cal was saying way before ESPN was even in Lexington, he didn’t yet understand this team & the media was crazy for making us number 3 in the country. All Access along with coming off a championship season understandably brought more attention, but it is virtually impossible to know what if any role these things played on this team, and at best is just a guess. Maybe the only answer really is, no matter what other outside conclusion, this team for whatever reason just isn’t good, these players just don’t have any chemistry or are just hard headed freaked out 18 year old kids that refuse to change or buy into Cal system. As long as Cal has been coaching, if he can’t figure it out, Lord God knows someone on a sports blog or in the media use doesn’t know.

  32. Grits n' gravy
    3:45 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    This team doesn’t really seem to care about winning. They are of the AAU mindset that winning doesn’t matter. Last years team was a special group of players, and I’m hoping next years team is of that mold. I’m not sure if the ESPN series hurt or not, but as for the comparison with Hard Knocks the NFL teams that have been on have had very mediocre years.

  33. B-man
    3:46 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    #20 & #21 – I agree with both of you. As crazy as it sounds (due to the consensus belief that Archie doesn’t pass), this team played their best when Archie was at PG. Plus, If you look at Archie’s stats the first five games and compare them to the remainder of his season, they are night and day (ppg, apg, fg%). During that same stretch, Alex was putting up 20 pt games. Keep in mind, Duke and Maryland were teams they played in that span…so they weren’t all cupcakes. In fact, Alex’s best game all season was against Duke. At this point, why not try Archie at the PG spot again???

  34. MasterBlaster
    3:47 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    UK 2010-2011 final four team, with 6 games left in regular season, was 17-7 overall and 5-5 in conference. Different circumstances altogether, but a somewhat equally frustrating team at that point in the season. Just sayin’…

  35. brain
    3:49 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Spot on despite him being a cheater.

  36. WWBD
    4:02 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Whenever I have a decision to make in life, I ask myself: What would Bruce do? Then I do the opposite.

  37. SoFLCat
    4:12 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Whatever your opinion of Pearl is, he knows basketball and he is pretty accurate here. I think the preseason hype got to these kids heads, it would have been more amazing had it not. They just havent come together like we all thought they would by this time. No matter what though, wish these kids the best and hope they are smart enough to stick around because I dont think a single one is ready for the league. (even noel really)

  38. Orange Juice
    4:12 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Every great story needs a villain and Bruce Pearl was a great villain! The SEC is not as exciting with him gone.

  39. Tubby
    4:28 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    #28 The Bengals did hard knocks then swept the afc north and won the division. They werent projected to be that good. Not an excuse.

  40. Truth
    4:31 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    A simpletons approach to reality.

    It might explain things to his mind, but, not in reality.

  41. Orlando Cat
    4:35 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I like Pearle a whole lot more now that he is no longer at the dirty orange.
    …..and he is right. Maybe not 100% but he is on track

  42. squirrel
    4:40 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    38**exactly right. we loved to hate him but he was a great rival, especially since he & cal went back to cal’s memphis days. same as rikky p–we hate him but we’d miss hating him if he was gone.

  43. Rockfield, KY
    4:50 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I gotta say it. I met Bruce this past summer and i liked the guy. It wasn’t phony either. I was in Sevierville at a cookout and he just stopped by for a while. I’ll be glad to see him back in the game soon.

    Also, I agree with him somewhat, but think overall it’s just the makeup of this year’s team. They’re not an aggressive group of guys and don’t have a killer instinct. Instead, they pout when they get mad instead of getting even.

  44. TampaCat
    4:58 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Have to agree with Pearl, go back and watch the series, you can see it coming! Other than Noel, the others were and still are – over their heads! – IMO.

  45. Brian
    5:00 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with Pearl that it added more pressure to a team that has proven not to handle pressure very well so far. With that said, the problem starts at point guard. The previous 3 PGs had different characteristics but they all had mental toughness and an attitude to them that is not present on this team. Archie and Alex would be making far less mistakes if they had an actual floor general directing the offense in the form of a Wall, Knight, or Teague.

  46. Linda Taylor
    5:07 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    It’s funny how the ESPN “All Access” shows didn’t affect Nerlens in a negative manner. But then again he is very mature for a kid his age. Alex and Archie are more typical 18/19-year-olds. Ryan seems like a good kid but he doesn’t seem to have what it takes to withstand the pressure of being a point guard at UK. Few do. It will be interesting to see what Cal & the assistants come up with tonight for a game plan & who will run point most of the game.

  47. bosshog
    5:20 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    A very good point by Pearl and gotta agree with him here. When you’re on top everybody wants to take you down and you have to be ready for it. Since these guys never did anything to earn it, they had no idea what it takes and were absolutely not ready for it. Combine this with the fact that the team never had any solid direction at the point and no legitimate senior leadership and it makes for a tumultuous ride at best. The bright lights of ESPN and everything else just accentuated the problem. What last year’s team experienced at Indiana and against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament only propelled them to much greater heights. This year it is the exact opposite.

  48. kingrex
    5:25 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    All Access had nothing to do with it, but I agree with what he said. These are simply not good basketball players. They are normal freshmen! Unfortunately in Cal’s system there is no room for such creatures (which is ridiculous).

  49. Michael
    5:52 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    With or without All-Access, this team was going to struggle this year. Even when you recruit the best class every year, sometimes even the best recruiting class in a given season won’t gel, etc. It’s the nature of the beast. Cal is going to recruit the best players available because that’s what coaches are supposed to do. He’s not going to tell them to return to school if they are guaranteed millions to leave early. Sometimes the young guys will get it, and sometimes they won’t. Sometimes a few will stick around and lead the next group, sometimes they won’t. If every 4 years we get an Elite 8, 2 Final 4’s, a Championship, and we throw 1 NIT season in there, I’ll remain happy!

  50. Blue Boy
    7:23 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Thought of the day, how can a person fail at an occupation but yet still have the ability to be viewed as an expert of the field so that they can set in front of a camera and voice their predictions. Being a journalist, reporter, or analyst doesn’t require a degree or any success it’s just a place failures go to after being fired. Cherish the memories of Al McGuire, Cawood Ledford, Tom Leach, and Larry Vaught while we can. Because, while close Pearl might still not be the bottom of the barrel.

  51. W.W.B.B.N.D?
    7:45 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    I do not believe that the ESPN All-Access had anything to do with UK playing afraid to play a 12-10 UT team. It should have had the opposite affect.

  52. W.W.B.B.N.D?
    7:47 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    opposite effect for #51^^

  53. Bobthebuildre
    7:48 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    He is dead on. Hate all u want but correct.

  54. HackRichards
    8:04 pm February 20, 2013 Permalink

    Hate to admit it, BUT that ole Bastard may be right!