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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Don’t give me Experienced Leaders, Give me Star Leaders

Who was actually the leader of the 2012 team?  The freshman or the senior?

I know with all the talk about Kyle Wiltjer maybe staying, maybe going, many people argue that the 2013-14 UK team needs Wiltjer to stick with the team because this team needs an experienced player that can be a kind of leader/role model for this talented group of freshman.  I’m here to tell you that I think that is a load of hogwash.  What separates truly great teams from good ones is not the presence of experienced leaders on the team, it’s the presence of that team’s star players taking control and being the leaders.  I don’t understand those who believe the 7th guy in the rotation who is a junior has just as much sway with the other players than the star player on the team.

Take John Calipari’s first Final Four team.  Yes, Deandre Liggins and Josh Harrelson were key figures in that team’s run through the tournament.  But was it their “leadership” or just their good play that was more important?  If I remember correctly, it was Brandon Knight who took control of that team, especially in March.  It was Knight who took the big shots (admittedly Liggins hit a big one against UNC), it was Knight who was the floor leader and NOBODY was more important than Knight down the stretch.  In that case, a freshman leader was the case.

In 2009-10, Patrick Patterson was a gigantic force on that team.  But it always seemed to me John Wall had as much of a leadership role, if not more, than Patterson.  And I love it.  I don’t want a guy that plays 15 minutes a game trying to motivate his teammates and guide them.  I want the guy who is out there 30-35 minutes.  Patterson was certainly important to that team, on and off the court.  But you could make an argument that team makes the Elite 8 with or without him.  You can not, under any circumstance, make that case without Wall.  And that has as much to due with Wall’s leadership as his talent.

The 2012 national champions were led by who?  Darius Miller?  Didn’t seem that way to me.  Miller was always a bit more passive on the court than most.  Which is fine.  It was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who became the leader of that squad.  Darius Miller, role player.  MKG, star player.  Team wins the national title.

Sometimes, teams get lucky and their older players are their stars.  UCONN saw that in 2011.  Kemba Walker encompassed both qualities.  UL saw it last season with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith at the helm.  But I don’t think it gave those team any extra advantage those players were juniors and seniors compared to MKG as a freshman.  The 1996 and 1998 UK championship teams also had senior leaders, but that was also a different era of basketball.

Leadership is rarely learned.  You either have it or you don’t.  At this point, I am not sure if I saw the leadership gene in Jared Polson or Jon Hood.  Maybe some think those guys should become the leaders of this team.  I certainly do not.  I will take Aaron or Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, or Dakari Johnson as the leaders.  Those are the guys who will have the ball in their hands the most, and I want the other players on the team to see those guys as leaders, and have the full confidence in them to excel in the most pressure packed moments.

The tough part is that freshman often come into college passive to try and take over a team.  Juniors and seniors have the confidence to do that more often than not.  BUT, that is not always the case.  Miller was a perfect example.  And sometimes you have teams without key players in the junior and seniors classes, as this 2013 team appears like it will have.  Maybe Cauley-Stein or Poythress step in and take control of the team.  I don’t know.  But what I hope is whoever takes on the leader role on this basketball team also is a star player on the team, not just one of the oldest.  I want my leaders to take charge, and sometimes that has to be a freshman.  Last season, Julius Mays tried to take control of the team, but it just didn’t work.  There is no Mays on this team.  It rests on the freshman most likely, and let me say, I kinda like that.  Your thoughts?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

32 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Don’t give me Experienced Leaders, Give me Star Leaders



  1. Seriously
    9:20 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Enough already! We get it, you absolutely hate Wiltjer and want him off the team. You made your point clear about 20 posts ago, at this point it’s just getting ridiculous.



  2. Musehobo
    9:20 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Although I tend to agree with you about on-court stars (regardless of age) being the best leaders, as always, you’ve turned something with shades of gray into a black and white argument. Yes, MKG was the true leader of the 2012 team. He gave it his all every game, was the vocal leader, and started the “breakfast club” which helped inspire some of his teammates to do the extra workouts with him.

    The problem is, you shouldn’t diminish the value of the experienced player, even if they’re not the vocal leader/role model for the team. For one, experience can provide insight on the floor. I’ve seen even the quiet guys pull teammates to the side to give advice. I think we sometimes pigeonhole the “leader” as the one who is yelling at his teammates to move, hustling on the court, communicating on the go. But there are other ways to lead. Secondly, while many players (even freshmen) can have poise, there’s at least a noticeable difference in the poise of a junior/senior that can be valuable for late-game heroics. Furthermore, the NCAA tourney can be stressful on the players. Kyle’s already won one.

    I’m sorry, but it’s not always one or the other. Sometimes its both. Yes MKG was the biggest leader on the team, but Miller contributed as a leader in different ways as well. It’s ridiculous to think you should discount the wisdom that can come with age/experience.



  3. UK Homer
    9:23 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Spot on. Wiltjer has an even steeper climb to fulfill that role if he decides to come back now anyway. I think we have a Coach who can get this quality out of certain players regardless of age.



  4. UK Homer
    9:26 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Kyle is no Darius. He can come back, work his tail off and be Darius – or even better. Let’s just say at this point he ain’t even close.



  5. sdfaasdklj
    9:26 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    I doubt that Vargas will take over this team….



  6. UKSupporter76
    9:26 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t entirely disagree with your premise, but I think your idea of leadership is way too narrow. Leadership isn’t just about playing hard on the court. Leadership is just as much about how you are off the court, and being a “star” has very little bearing on that. You seem to think the “go to” scorer is the same thing as the leader, and I don’t think they have much to do with each other at all.

    Leadership is about accountability.

    It’s been mentioned on the site (specifically about this incoming team) you need alpha-males to lead your team. Alpha males will typically end up being the “stars” so in that regard you are correct, but I think you missed the root cause. Last year’s team had 3 problems.

    1) No upperclassmen. That’ isn’t a leadership issue as much as it is a continuity issue.
    2) Sub-par point guard play.
    3) No alpha males.

    Continuity could still be an issue this year, but I think that the other two will be just fine.



  7. dave
    9:27 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Somehow I don’t see Vargas taking over this year?



  8. Sam
    9:28 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    BTI, it’s not a zero sum answer. Meaning, you can’t say, “it was MKG’s leadership that was THE reason for the championship.” And you can’t say, “it was Miller’s experience that was THE reason.”

    It’s entirely possible if not likely that w/o Miller, we do not hang #8. And more possible w/o MKG’s leadership we don’t hang it.

    What I’m saying is the leadership from ANYBODY on the court (not just the star) is ESSENTIAL. AND, if you look at championship teams, there MUST BE experience as well.

    So, in summary, Wiltjer’s experience would be big. But even w/o him, we fortunately have WCS and Alex, not to mention Polson to a lesser degree. But Wiltjer is a junior and if he would play instead of redshirting, that would be a big boost to our experience this year.



  9. Bear
    9:28 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    I see why cant see why Matt Jones still has you on this sight moron. btw leaders need tol know the program and whats expected not a a near 30 year old one year transfer. Get a grip Bryan you are SUCH A HATER.



  10. VinylCAT
    9:30 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    ummmm are you referring to Eloy Vargas when you mentioned “Maybe Vargas or Poythress step in and take control of the team.”?? Last time I checked he graduated a year ago and recently just made it onto the NY Knicks Summer League team. jussss sayin…..



  11. here ya go
    9:33 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    darius miller.. when that team needed a basket darius was the go to man not mkg.. harrelson.. during the OSU game harrelson was the fire that sparked that team. knight made the last shot but harrelson kept the team in the game and motivated.you see a leader lets people have a chance to succeed but doesn’t let them fail. it doesn’t have to be the star of the team.It can change game to game. but an article trying to use examples of people you say were not leaders is really a rather crass judgement to make. especially when those people were successful.



  12. Eloy Vargas
    9:33 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    I will lead this team to Number 9 after I get cut from the NBA summer league. Promise!!!



  13. VinylCAT
    9:33 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    well guess I was a little late to the fact check party…………..KSR who proofreads and edits your articles? It appears the site should have an opening for a full time online editor? If not get one……



  14. ummmmmmm
    9:33 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    I agree with #7. I can’t see Vargas taking anything over…



  15. Eloy Vargas
    9:47 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Bryan has faith in me, so why don’t you? Haters gon’ hate, Bryan!



  16. Eloy Vargas
    9:49 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Dannnng, he already took me off the post. Forget you too, Bryan!



  17. just saying
    9:54 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    seems like I read this same post a week or so ago, cant wait to read it again next week



  18. Musehobo
    10:01 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    UKSupporter76 and Sam have it correct. Seriously BTI, do you create polarity because it’s what you really believe, or because it spawns message board hits?



  19. Awaiting Moderation
    10:02 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Here is my thing, MKG and AD were the leaders on that team…however, during the tournament if you look at the most important games you see the following:

    Indiana: T-Jones came to play and stepped up to win that game for us, him and Doron Lamb
    Baylor: Once again, T-Jones and Lamb led the way to that victory
    Louisville: Darius led the way to that victory
    Kansas: While AD won MOP, the real MOP for that game was Lamb, who almost went for 30 and hit big shot after big shot.

    While MKG continuously stayed in foul trouble. So I somewhat agree with your point, but The veterans led them in the tournament.



  20. Hold up now
    10:12 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Of course it’s not a black and white issue, but you have to respect BTI for taking a stance and defending it. I doubt he would disagree with many of the arguments that have been presented here, but imagine how lame it would be if he wrote a half hearted, wishy washy, sitting on the fence article?



  21. The rise
    10:24 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    @here ya go and awaiting moderation. Spot on! I was thinking the same thing reading tht



  22. Doug
    10:37 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    At the end
    Of the year our
    Freshman studs better be the leaders or this team will be in trouble. But veteran leadership is essinetial in the early stages of a season. That veteran leadership needs to be a good player as well that can have an impact on the game. In 2010 Patterson came up huge early on before the team figured it out. In 2012 Darius was the best player per conference schedule ( cal said the same thing) without this guys taking control we don’t do as well in the tournament. Knights team struggled mightily in the regular season because no one could that early in the season ( Darius was to passive then) so it left 3 freshman trying to take over which lead to
    Some losses. Luckily deandre and josh and Darius all meshed at the right time with the you h guys and they made their run in the tourney. Last year we never had that and unfortunately we didn’t have the type of guy to ride in the end. Archie couldn’t make a 3 so the lane was always clogged and it went down hill from there. So next year don’t be surprised when Alex is the best player for the first two months and we win a bunch of close games with him at the end. But come march it’ll be Julius and the twins leading us. Without Alex and wcs in the beginning tho we might not have that chance



  23. Kentucky Effect
    10:44 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Without Wiltjer, no one on this team has played a single minute in a NCAA Tournament game. Marinade on that for a second.



  24. 90% of UL fans in Louisville live in the projects and leech off the government
    10:51 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    23. We are gonna dump a load on your team Dec 29.



  25. PhilUK18
    10:58 am July 8, 2013 Permalink

    23.

    Blah, blah, blah. Harrellson and Liggins didn’t have much meaningful tournament experience before the 2011 tournament either. Seems to me that turned out pretty well. Cats by 15 or more at Rupp vs. the Card Tards this year. Don’t worry though, I’m sure you’ll have enough 40s stocked to drown your sorrows that night



  26. CatsFanFrankfort
    12:20 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Definitely NO argument can be made that the 2010 team makes the Elite 8 without PPat. You are seriously undervaluing his contribution to that team. I can understand it, remembering the glitz and glamour from the freshman stars that year, but he was the glue that kept the team together.



  27. jpizzle
    1:02 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    BTI- I agree with your premise. I do think that Marquis Teague gets overlooked a bit for his leadership of that team. He of course famously was a charter member of TEAM #NF and as the PG ran the offense. He had his growing pains, but he worked it out and had the team rolling late in the season. MKG was definitely the lead dog, but don’t overlook Teague’s contributions.



  28. Maxbps8
    2:51 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Good point in the article…but (1) MKG is a one-in-a-million young man particularly at the age of 18 on the biggest stage in college basketball. And (2) Experienced Leaders do as much or MORE OFF-the-court than they do on the court. Who’s to say that DMill didn’t help MKG behind the scenes, in practice, around campus, etc… and all that Experienced Leadership HELPED and MENTORED MKG which allowed him to emerge?

    Leadership MATTERS. You can rant all you want but in the end, come Monday in April, leadership in all its forms MATTERS.



  29. abcd
    6:09 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    BTI Still writing garbage



  30. spookykim
    7:03 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    God, BTI SUCKS! You are the biggest Eeyore, whiney-butt ever! Can you ever say anything good?!!



  31. Dee W.
    9:52 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    “The 2012 national champions were led by who? Darius Miller? Didn’t seem that way to me. Miller was always a bit more passive on the court than most. Which is fine. It was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who became the leader of that squad. Darius Miller, role player. MKG, star player. Team wins the national title.”

    This does not make sense. How do you even define “leadership”?



  32. Dee W.
    9:54 pm July 8, 2013 Permalink

    “In 2009-10, Patrick Patterson was a gigantic force on that team. But it always seemed to me John Wall had as much of a leadership role, if not more, than Patterson. And I love it. I don’t want a guy that plays 15 minutes a game trying to motivate his teammates and guide them. I want the guy who is out there 30-35 minutes. Patterson was certainly important to that team, on and off the court. But you could make an argument that team makes the Elite 8 with or without him. You can not, under any circumstance, make that case without Wall. And that has as much to due with Wall’s leadership as his talent.”

    This makes even less sense and seems to contradict itself. You do not know what leadership is and its effect on the team.