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ESPN SEC Primer? Don’t mind if I do.

Myron Medcalf over at ESPN took some time yesterday to break down the fast-approaching SEC season, and like any time SEC basketball is discussed, Kentucky got more than its fair share of attention.

Though Myron picked Florida to win the league (let’s see if that prediction changes in a couple weeks), there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic about the Cats’ chances entering league play, especially with so many crucial confidence builders early on.

Now, the Wildcats don’t seem to realize yet that they can be the SEC’s best team if they overcome their struggles with continuity and chemistry, two traits that have propelled past Kentucky squads to the Final Four.  And this team’s recent acceleration — the Wildcats have won five of their past six games — is tied to Ryan Harrow’s growth.

Phil Pressey of Mizzou got most of the consideration for the Player of the Year, but when it comes to freshman of the year?  Please.  Pretty sure we got that on lock.  Naturally, three of the four freshmen named were Wildcats, with Archie Goodwin at the forefront:

[H]e shines under the bright lights. He had 22 points against Louisville and 16 points against Duke. Yes, the Wildcats lost those games. But Goodwin has already proved that he’s the kind of kid whom opposing coaches need to monitor at all times. He’s dangerous.

Also mentioned, of course, was Nerlens Noel; somewhat surprisingly, Alex Poythress got the third shout out, even though to many it seems like Willie Cauley-Stein has been the one to really exceed expectations so far.  Hopefully Poythress goes all Brandon Knight and puts together a string of ridiculous performances after a somewhat shaky start to really solidify his place on this list (and in the draft).

Going down the list to the “Biggest Disappointments” department, Medcalf mentions that ” you could write this entire section about Kentucky.”  Ouch.  But he’s not entirely wrong.  It’s half high standards, half tough losses, but he’s sort of right.  The preseason #3 Cats are currently unranked for the first time entering SEC play under Calipari, and while there’s hope they can improve, this is an unprecedented situation post-BCG.  However, I will disagree with MM’s assertion that “chemistry issues have led to Kentucky’s 9-4 start.”  Chemistry issues implies a lack of camaraderie or teamwork, and I don’t think that’s the case.  A lack of focus and execution, though, certainly.  This team has a lot of affection for each other, but sometimes they just get a little crazy.  And jump at every fake.  All of them.  They all jump.

Finally, the burning question: Will Kentucky improve enough to win the SEC.  Myron forms a controversial opinion and says, “Maybe.”  Solid.  But if I were Myron, and the the question was “Can Kentucky win the SEC?” the answer would have to be “Yes.”  Will they is another matter.  Myron cites the Louisville game in particular as evidence that the Cats can compete with anyone in the SEC.

Ultimately, it looks like this is at least going to finally be an interesting year in conference play.  Last year, for all of its dominance, got a little boring when we did nothing but win, win, win against SEC teams.  Actually no it didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that this year, for all its struggles, can’t be interesting, too.

It really is a race this year, and we’ll know starting tomorrow whether the Cats are going to make like poor little Tink-Tink and do more than anybody expected.

Article written by Corey Nichols

16 Comments for ESPN SEC Primer? Don’t mind if I do.



  1. bung
    9:12 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    If we run and make assists we can go undefeated in conference. If we play half court only like we did 2 years ago we will probably lose 9 again.



  2. just saying
    9:23 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    #1. a HUGE misconception about Calipari is that he runs an uptempo offense, when in fact his teams are designed to run the half-court offense, spread the court and beat your guy off the dribble. Even Calipari’s best teams were never known for pressing, running, and fast breaks. He plays half-court man defense, and will break when its there, but mostly asks his PG to pull the ball back and set-up half court.

    UKs size and athletism will dominate MOST of the SEC by just showing up. However winning the SEC will be a tall task, and we will drop a few (1-2) of the “shoulda won” games, and we will get swept by UF and possibly Missou, and Ole Miss is a coin flip. I see UK losing 4-5 SEC games, meaning winning the SEC is not likely. Im more hoping we use the SEC as a way to fine-tune our way into possibly winning the SECT, and make a deep march run, winning the SEC means nothing to me



  3. Big Whoop
    9:25 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t see us going undeafeated except at home. I look for splits with Florida and Missouri and we may lose a couple of road games that we should win. With four losses, we should win the SEC regular season or at least tie for it. I say we win the SEC Tournament and wind up as a four seed if we win the tournament and the regular season in the conference. If we don’t accomplish those two goals, then I see a 7 or 8 seed. I do expect a minimum of a Sweet Sixteen, but, for me, the standard is Elite Eight. I think we are capable of making it that far.



  4. Just saying..you are wrong
    9:38 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    #2 I couldnt agree with you less. Cal always asks for his PG and team to push the ball up the court, it is called a delayed fast break. Though they dont press like the Pitino teams, he still puts full or quarter court pressure on team. I agree that he has an offense built around taking your man off the dribble, but his teams are built best when running in transition.



  5. woodworm
    9:46 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    any word on the big unc tardheel academic fraud ‘investigation’. i fear the worst



  6. emlang08
    9:51 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    I find all the bad talk about UK amazing, thought there were about 8 games we could lose this year, yes we have lost all four that we have played so far, but that would not have been the case if they were not all in Nov/Dec.

    People have to be excited about the comeback at Louisville, and the fact that we have won the other 5 games by an average of 36 points!

    That alone should have had us back in the top 25, but who really cares about those polls until March.

    We are at a bit of a challenge strengthening our RPI for the remainder of the season, Not playing UF and Mizzou until Feb March will allow us time to reach our potential before facing them.

    I guess the biggest reason we are not in the top 25 currently would be, who to knock out with 1-2 losses to add in a 4 loss team with the season so young.

    No worries Cats fans, you will see constant improvement as the season progresses.



  7. reedwizard
    9:52 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    I think we will lose 3 games in conference, split with Mizzou & Florida and lose another that we shouldn’t. I’m hopeful that we end up sweeping one of the above teams and come out of conference play with just 2 losses. The SEC is very weak, and I can’t even defend the teams with a straight face. Teams like Tennessee, USC & Georgia have good talent but won’t live up to their potential…again. Go CATS!!



  8. asdf
    10:01 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    Dominance NEVER gets boring.



  9. just saying
    10:02 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    #4, while Cals teams do push the ball, they are much more prone to pull out and run the clock down to 10-12 seconds before starting their offense. They spread the half-court and beat their man for easy baskets, which is why UK is always highly ranked in PPG and offensive efficiency, but ranks middle to low on defensive turnovers and transition (fast break) points.

    You want to compare Pitino, NO ONE presses and runs like Pitino, but his offense depends completely on defensive TOs and transition, if you can handle their press, they are simply not that good offensively or defensively. Cal is completely opposite, his teams rely of solid half court defense, and offensive efficiency. Like I said Cals teams break when its there, but the vast majority of their offense is in the half court.



  10. bung
    10:02 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    Cats were always known for race horse basketball and I would like to see us continue that . Even last year we built most of our big leads running the break after a defensive rebound and then for some reason would stop and make a close game out of it by walking it up and playing half court only. We haven’t run the break very well this year when we do attempt it because of spacing and the ball handler won’t pass at the end after he draws the defender.



  11. UK schedule
    10:06 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    If we are going to predict an SEC record….. Please look at me. We won’t split with Missouri in the regular season because we’ll only play them once. Good predictions nonetheless. I think we will lose 3-5, but I think that can put us at top 2 in conference. (We’d better do that or selection Sunday will be a very stressful day).



  12. daghadf
    10:39 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    Consider the fact Louisville beat Mizzou by double digits without Gorgui. We lost to louisville by 3 even when they had him back, we will beat Mizzou.



  13. daghadf
    10:40 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    That’s 23 points to be exact.



  14. UK Freshmen
    11:17 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    I have never seen a fan-base hang onto hope for improvement based on a LOSS. Maybe UK will also come close to beating Vandy and all the fans can be ‘assured’ of a National Championship.



  15. Wild Blue
    11:31 am January 9, 2013 Permalink

    Coach Cal is like a thoroughbred horse trainer. He knows how to prep his studs for when it counts most. Some of these SEC games will be like prep races for the big dance.



  16. kywildcat_96
    3:37 pm January 10, 2013 Permalink

    #14 I’ve never seen a fan base spend more time on a rival’s website.