“I don’t hate you.”
A friendly gentleman over at Bleacher Report decided to take a look at not just the actual changes to Kentucky’s roster next year, but instead on the effect those changes are likely to have on the overall program. It was an interesting idea (and you can read about it here), so in this otherwise slow news week leading up to the Wiggins announcement, let’s go through and see what we can glean.
1) One Less Elite Defender
The loss of Nerlens will hurt, sure, but expect this to be a replacement by committee. The author correctly points out that, while there probably won’t be a single defensive player as good as Noel next year, the discrepancy between the top few defensive players will be much smaller. This sounds a lot more worrisome than it actually is; would you rather have one elite defender, or three excellent defenders? Reasonable minds could differ, but this probably won’t be as bad as people think.
2) No Vocal Leader
Much like the shot-blocking stat in the old box score will miss Nerlens, the “intangible” aspect of the game, apparently, will miss Julius Mays. We saw how the team last year relied on Uncle Julius to help them pull together as a team, but last year was interesting insofar as there actually seemed to be a struggle with team chemistry. Not that the players disliked each other at all, there was just always a disjointed nature to the team; fans never knew what to expect come game time. Next year, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most of these guys have already played a great deal together, so hopefully chemistry, and leadership, won’t be a problem. Plus, anybody that’s paid attention to Andrew Harrison can see that he could take over the leadership spot as a freshman, just like MKG two seasons ago.
3) Abundance of Wings
Next year’s team looks like happy hour at B-Dubs with the amount of wings the Wildcats will have. And there’s the possibility of adding one more. Contrast that with last season, where the wing position was one of many where the Cats just seemed undermanned. The increase in depth, with the addition of Aaron Harrison and James Young to help out Alex Poythress, makes this a pretty straightforward idea. Author got it right on this one: expect wings to be one of UK’s biggest strengths next season. Too much scoring ability.
4) Point Guard Surety
Speaking of Andrew Harrison (I was just a couple bullet points ago), next year’s point guard question will be super easy; in fact, it won’t exist. There’s no question that when Andrew Harrison commits to your team, you have effectively made your point guard decision. While last season saw PT split between Harrow, Goodwin, and Polson, next year you can expect to see a much more stable reliance on Harrison. When it comes to the PG spot, consistency and predictability for teammates is key. Harrison can provide those in spades.
Last year’s team started out with lofty aspirations for a championship, which is really what you’d expect from any of Calipari’s Kentucky classes. But losing the second game of the season, and the first at home under Cal, really put a damper on the 2013 squad’s expectations. This class comes in with a shiny new coat of paint, though, without all the dings and scratches that last year accumulated. While there were questions in ranking Kentucky in the top three last preseason (which was ultimately far too high), there are no such questions this year. Kentucky is the clear-cut number one team, and might get even better.
Overall, Bleacher Report raises some pretty good points re: the changes to next year’s squad. But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can read it through yourself if you have, like, a half hour. Seriously, it’s so much words.
Stick around for the radio show, where we’re sure to talk Andrew Wiggins and maybe breakfast foods. You just never know.