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Can Kentucky Recreate 2011 UConn?

uconn-and-kentucky

I hate comparing any team that I like to UConn, mostly because Jim Calhoun is a jerkface, but there’s no denying that the 2011 edition of the Huskies are one of the best examples of a team catching fire at the right time.  With the Wildcats needing a little inspiration to turn around an otherwise frustrating season, do you think they could match Connecticut’s post-season heroics en route to a substantial tournament run?  There are definitely enough similarities between the two teams to at least merit the discussion.

Going into the Big East Tournament two years ago, UConn was an uninspiring 21-9, with losses to unranked St. John’s and West Virginia.  They finished the regular season only .500 in the Big East (9-9), and lost four of their final five games.  It was rough going, to say the least, but they were able to rely on Mr. Clutch in the indomitable Kemba Walker.  But regardless of how good people say your league is, only winning half of your conference games is a struggle for a team that otherwise expects to do big things.

Kentucky, meanwhile, has a completely different set of problems.  Where UConn started their championship season unranked, the Wildcats were almost unanimously listed in the Top 3 of most media outlets.  After disappointing all those who’d picked them to compete for a number one seed, a lot of folks feel burned by their lack of success.  The Cats have only been ranked for one week after dropping out of the polls following some embarrassing early-season losses.  It’s possible that folks feel burned by the Wildcats, who have massively under-delivered on promises they never made for themselves.

Also, while both 2011 UConn and 2013 Kentucky have some bad losses in common, there’s no question that the Huskies had better wins.  With four regular-season wins over top ten teams, there was plenty of good momentum in Storrs to sort of cover up the more festering blemishes.  Kentucky, meanwhile, had its best win the other day against #11 Florida, and its second-best win over unranked Missouri.  Both at home.  Fewer resume-building wins makes those losses to Georgia and Texas A&M really stand out.

Finally, UConn was able to keep one thing that Kentucky has had to do without: their Player of the Year candidate.  Watching Kemba Walker operate during that 11-game winning streak was really something else.  While Kentucky fans pretty unanimously dislike Coach Calhoun, and have no reason to root for UConn (especially after beating us twice in the same season), you almost have to like Kemba.  He just gave everything he had every time he was on the court.  Same thing is true, I think, for other fanbases’ feelings toward Nerlens.  They may not like us, and that’s fine, but you have to admire a player that works as hard, and hustles as much, as Noel always does.  But if Kemba was the spark that ignited that championship team, is Kentucky without a sparkplug?

I won’t say that Kentucky can’t turn it on like the Huskies did a couple years ago.  They’ve already showed that they can win big games without Nerlens, and are definitely capable of making a substantial run, with the level of talent available on the team.  And the late-season losses are fine when you consider that Kemba and Co. dropped four of their last five to end the season; maybe even those late losses will inspire the team to perform better in a “win-or-go-home” scenario.  But while it’s possible to see a transformation in this team that could result in a championship, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  Remember, UConn still had a 3-seed in the tourney; we’ll be lucky to get in.  And no SEC tourney outcome could result in a top-4 seed.  So watch some basketball tonight, root for favorites to beat bubble teams, and don’t expect Kemba Walker to come through that door.

If nothing else, at least the suspense makes the SEC Tournament more fun.

Article written by Corey Nichols

42 Comments for Can Kentucky Recreate 2011 UConn?



  1. just sayin...
    9:04 am March 14, 2013 Permalink


  2. just sayin...
    9:07 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    also, probably NSFW, just sayin…



  3. UK Wildcat
    9:10 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Terrible comparison. UCONN just happened to have Kemba Walker, by far the best player in the country that season. If UK had a similar record going into the NCAA Tournament with Nerlens Noel, you possibly could have made the argument that UK could ride Noel to a title. But we don’t have Noel, and he was the only player on our roster to even make an All-SEC team in an absolutley abysmal year in the SEC.

    Really, just a terrible post.



  4. RICK
    9:10 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    NO, We dont have a Kemba Walker on this team. Most teams dont.



  5. Matt
    9:16 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    So to sum up this post: “Can you make a comparison between UK this year and UCONN in 2011? No, you can’t.” WOW what a brilliant post. Complete waste of your time and ours.



  6. Austin
    9:16 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I have a question… Do you think UK will be penalized and sent out West? I know we won’t have priority, but I wonder if the committee will decide that they don’t want a 9 seed having home court advantage over the one seed. I could see us stringing a few wins together and getting a 9 seed. Do you think we would land in Gonzaga’s bracket out West? I can’t imagine the committee giving a somewhat hot UK team any break and letting us play near Lexington… I am not sure if they take these things into account, or if it is just a matter of where you fall on the line when you get to the 8/9 types.



  7. ktmiln2
    9:17 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    3 and 4- Geez, if only the 5th paragraph/stanza had begun with, “UConn was able to keep one thing that Kentucky has had to do without: their Player of the Year candidate.”



  8. ktmiln2
    9:17 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    1. Excellent



  9. Austin
    9:18 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    But, if we did happen to upset somebody, the comparison would be more to the 2011 Cats in my opinion.



  10. kuhlkat
    9:18 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Kemba Walker ain’t walking thru that door. I think, however, we can make the sweet 16



  11. ajh
    9:18 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #3 – Agreed. Maybe if you had Noel, but without him, no there is no comparison.



  12. ktmiln2
    9:19 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I’m beginning to think that the reading comprehension skills of some posters are worse than anyone else’s writing skills.



  13. ajh
    9:19 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #6 – There is NOOOOOOOOOO way in hell we get a 9 seed. Not a chance…



  14. Hello
    9:19 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    You know, there is no law requiring KSR to post new articles; quality over quantity, even if it only means 1 new post a week.

    Stay Calm and Suck On Corey



  15. Ugly muffin
    9:19 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Not even close. No one could guard Kemba that year. Liggins was one of the best perimeter defenders in the country but he got destroyed by Kemba. Even if Noel was healthy we still don’t have an unguardable player like they had. We should understand by now that away from Rupp our team kind of sucks. UConn was unbeatable on neutral courts that season while we could easily lose to an awful Vandy team tomorrow. We have no savior on this team.



  16. Austin
    9:22 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #14, you don’t think if we made the SEC Championship we could get a 9? The same logic would apply to my argument if we were a 10 seed, but still. I don’t think a 9 seed is out of question if we show good form and beat Arkansas and Mizzou.



  17. UK Wildcat
    9:31 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #7 The part about Noel being out and them having Walker is by far the most important part. It shouldn’t have begun the fifth paragraph, it should have immediately deterred Corey from ever posting this, because the entire comparison hinges on Walker-Noel. Without Noel, the comparison isn’t there, which makes this a worthless post. Not as worthless as earlier this week when Corey didn’t know Lyles was committed to Indiana at one point, but still worthless.



  18. DCS195
    9:32 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    The big difference between Kemba Walker and Noel besides Walker being a player of the year candidate was that Walker was an offensive player, a guard and had the ball in his hands much of the time. The difference between UConn at the end of the season and during the tournaments was the play of Walker. He made only the right decisions all the time in the tourneys and would not let his team lose. We do not have anyone close to that. Put MKG on this team and we might have a chance but he wouldn’t have the ball in his hands enough and was not quiet the offensive player that Walker was. He did possess the right mindset though.



  19. DCS195
    9:35 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #15. Must also agree with your comment.



  20. bsquared
    9:36 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    One huge difference is that we have mullet cat



  21. GoBlue
    9:37 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Forget UConn 2011. Let’s try to recreate Kentucky 2011. That team underacheived, struggled mightily on the road in the SEC, but played well at home and on neutral courts and rode that to the Final Four, even with probably the toughest draw of the whole tournament.



  22. So Bad
    9:41 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    This is such a poor post. I’ve posted many a time, but I really, really, really wish someone would pull the plug on Corey. Seems like a nice guy, just doesn’t bring anything compelling to the table.



  23. BTI sucks less
    9:45 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    BTI looks like a genius at this point. Thank you, thank you #1. Only way to read the 9 am post.



  24. Austin
    9:46 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think the post by Corey should have highlighted Cal’s comments yesterday. I am sure that is where the idea for the piece came from. Cal said yesterday he could see us going on a run like that UCONN team. IF the piece had talked about Cal more, it would make a little more sense in my opinion.



  25. BlueHope
    9:48 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Since Cal, said that Nerlens had sucessful surgery, and his injury was like Da’s. Can we expect too see just maybe Nerlens playing spot minutes in the ncaa tourney? Man what a boost that be to the team!



  26. David
    9:48 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Does anyone see a Kemba Walker on this team??? Didn’t think so.



  27. Al's IndiCats
    9:48 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    You know stranger things have happened, be it written by CorEy or Ms. Tyler.
    No we don’t have a Kemba Walker, but hopefully Archie or Alex steps up and play out the keesters and take us far into the Tourney. But Let’s get by the little ol’ SEC thingy before hand! GO CATS!



  28. ajh
    9:48 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #16 – you are high.



  29. RealCatsFan
    9:52 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #14 says “quality over quantity” – maybe that should apply to some of the comments posted on these articles, particularly the ones bitching about the writers for a FREE site.



  30. DC Cat
    9:53 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Im sorry Corey, you seem like a good guy and a talented writer, but this post is not your best. You can’t say, “There are definitely enough similarities between the two teams to at least merit the discussion.” And then two paragraphs later write, “Kentucky, meanwhile, has a completely different set of problems.” I would argue that if Kentucky has a completely different set of problems, then there are not enough similarities to at least merit the discussion of their comparison. That is my constructive criticism of the day.



  31. R. Smith
    9:56 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    “It’s possible that folks feel burned by the Wildcats, who have massively under-delivered on promises they never made for themselves.”

    That’s implied when you put on the UK uniform.



  32. RealCatsFan
    9:57 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #1, interesting little gizmo there, but I think the folks over on Card Chronicle will find it to be a lot more useful. 🙂



  33. Austin
    9:58 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #30 I agree. See my post above. I think you could make the argument simply because CAL brought it up yesterday, but the two teams are obviously completely different. I would say CAL was pooping ice-cream out of his mouth when he made the comment.



  34. BBN
    9:58 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    #25
    There is no way, the average recovery time is 6-9 months AFTER SURGERY.
    Unless he has a big “S” tattooed on his chest, there’s no way we will see Nerleans again this year on the court playing.



  35. Big Blue Fan
    10:21 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Huge difference they had Kemba Walker and we have Goodwin



  36. Dumbledore
    10:21 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Kemba Walker ain’t walkin’ through that door.



  37. Catsfan05
    10:22 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    We need to make the tournament first. Nothing is guranteed.



  38. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    10:51 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    You do not almost HAVE to like Kemba. What a ridiculous statement. Are we supposed to like D Wade too based off of what he did to us @ Marquette?



  39. HouseofStark
    11:30 am March 14, 2013 Permalink

    What a complete and utter waste of time and effort it took reading this garbage. Every single time you post something on this site you further reveal how completely and utterly clueless you are in regards to the sports world. You are hurting the reputation of Kentucky basketball simply by associating yourself with the program. Please stop, for the sake of us all.



  40. rj
    12:13 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    so what if they had kemba, we have brian long!



  41. Ironsides
    12:35 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    ktmiln2: Are you Corey or one of his family members? The “5th Stanza”? Hahahaha. There isn’t one Stanza in this article that makes any sense.

    IF WE HAD NERLENS we still wouldn’t be on the same Planet as UCONN was that year. Not close. You have again proven how terrible you are when writing. I know deep down you think you’re important and that they’re just trolls on these comments but this isn’t a troll. You’re actually worthless.
    You say to yourself “Why don’t they try to write 5 days a week and see if they can do better.” Maybe thats true, maybe I would suck too but I’m not completely embarrassing myself by putting my name on utter crap everyday on the internet. You do know that people can see these articles and associate your terribleness on here to your general terribleness in real life?

    stop, stop now. This isn’t a troll, this is an intervention. Do it for yourself Corey, you’re embarrassing us all.



  42. Duke sucks
    3:23 pm March 14, 2013 Permalink

    Simply put no! We are more like the team after Walker left. Plenty of talent just not a great team for what ever reason. This team is important in its own way. I do think we have good kids who are giving 110%, it’s their just not jiving for some reason! This year might help next years team remain grounded.
    Any way go cats. We might not win this year but I do think they will give a effort to make us all proud and that’s all that matters this year! I think they will leave it all on the court and that’s all we can ask?