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“Example is Leadership”


Why will this year’s team have a better chance to win #8 than Calipari’s previous 2 teams at UK? Besides the possibility of more overall talent on this year’s team, the answer is leadership. Leadership as defined by Webster: “The quality of character and personality giving a person the ability to gain the confidence of and lead others“. Can a freshman lead UK to a national title? We’re going to find out this year more so than the 2 previous years.

John Wall and KSR favorite Demarcus Cousins led Calipari’s first UK team to the Elite 8. The upperclassman on that team – Patrick Patterson – was all class, especially considering all the crap he had to deal with from Billy Clyde. Then he gets to his junior year and the #1 recruiting class joins him on a brand new team with a brand new attitude, bringing the swagger back to BBN. Patterson finished the season 2nd on the team in rebounds and 3rd in scoring but not the leader of the team. The team belonged to Wall and Cousins but they were two strong and different personalities, sometimes going in different directions and not really leading the team. They undoubtedly had a lot of success but there sometimes was a disconnect with the other members of the team. They liked the spotlight on them but as the spotlight got brighter there wasn’t a clear single leader on that team.

Calipari’s team last year, again, included the country’s top recruiting class, but with a different kind of attitude. Brandon Knight was a talented guard and Terrence Jones was a forward with size and tremendous skills. The upperclassmen included fan favorite senior Josh Harrellson who was 2nd on the team in rebounds but 6th in scoring, and juniors Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins – neither of which had the stats or leadership qualities to draw teammates to them and lead them into battle. Again, this team had a lot of success and made it to the Final Four – but these freshmen were more low-key than Wall and Cousins and even though Jorts exploded on the scene, this team also had no clear leader.

Which brings us to this year’s team. The seniors on this team -Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas- don’t command a personality (at least outwardly) that gets teammates to follow them. This year’s version of the #1 recruiting class may be the most talented – which still needs to be seen over the course of the entire season – but with a different mix of personalities than the last two seasons. Anthony Davis is deservedly talked about as the #1 pick in next year’s NBA draft and he is critical to this team’s success, but he works within the framework of the team and doesn’t take charge of the team in so much as he blends with the others. Teague is still trying to find his way and Wiltjer will contribute more as he earns more minutes.

But Kidd-Gilchrist has emerged after just 16 games as the clear leader of this team. He’s 2nd in points and rebounds on the team, but his performance on New Year’s Eve elevated him from talented freshman and Player of the Year candidate to leader of this team. As choppy as the flow was during that game he willed the team to win – he was not going to let them lose. Whether it be his performance in games or at practice or organizing breakfast club workouts he definitely has the quality of character and personality giving him the ability to gain the confidence of and lead others. Just watch his interaction with his teammates and coaches. Calipari makes the team run for every missed free throw during a game, but he didn’t make the team run after the Louisville game for Kidd-Gilchrists’ missed free throws because of how hard he played. He puts the team on his back, and makes other players have better games and helps them to step up when the team needs them. This was the missing ingredient in previous years. MKG is the leader and his example, heart and passion will lead this team to #8.

Article written by Laura Leigh Rossoll

27 Comments for “Example is Leadership”

  1. UK all the WAY!!
    8:26 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    LOL! You guys got no shot!!

  2. Catsantonio
    8:33 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    B. Knight was the clear leader of last year’s team, he was the reason we went to the final four.

  3. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    8:34 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    I would agree with #2, Knight was definitely the leader of last year’s team. Almost as much as Kemba Walker was to UCONN. He single handily got us through two rounds of the tourney.

  4. Nassau65
    8:44 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Hard to argue with any here Ms. Rossoll. Good read.

  5. Seriously?
    8:54 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    This piece does a GREAT disservice to the last 2 teams. First, on the Wall/Cousins team, to say that Patterson wasn’t the leader of that team does him a disservice. But more importantly, to say that Brandon Knight wasn’t a leader of last years team is ridiculous. Knight is a true leader, not one that is overly loud, but leads with confidence and by example. Bad read.

  6. mikey4583
    8:58 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    #2 Brandon Knight was the leader of last year’s team, but lacked the TYPE OF energy and passion that Gilchrist brings (in my opinion). Knight was great at times, energized as well…but in a quiet way because that was his personality. When was the last time you saw a UK player get as excited for OTHER teammate’s accomplishments the way MKG does??

  7. mikey4583
    9:00 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    But with that being said, Brandon Knight was definitely the leader of last years team, Patrick Patterson was the Glue to the previous team, but to say he was the leader would be a stretch…if you forced me to pick I’d have to say Wall was the leader.

  8. Doom or Gloom
    9:01 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    2 – I disagree. We went to the final four because of our coach. And we will go again because of our coach. Knight, Liggins, Jones, Miller, Lamb, Harrelson….those 6 playes led by the coach is what got us to the final four. And 3 of those players, along with 3 new ones will get us to the final four again led by our coach.

  9. ChuckGuy
    9:02 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Ha Ha Ha Hardy Har Har
    I made M. Teague look like a Middle School Player

  10. Doom or Gloom
    9:03 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Brandon Knight did not lead by example…Harrelson and Liggins led by example. They played gritty, hard nose basketball. All knight did was shoot 3’s and pentrate. Yeah he led the team in scoring, but he was carried by all his teammates in every other aspect of the game.

  11. travyork
    9:03 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great job!!! I agree having MKG as a clear leader and single voice to follow is an advantage for this team.

  12. bigcuzzz
    9:14 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Laura Lee Mary Kate Russell, whatever your name is… Knight was a HUGE leader last year. Did you even watch any games?

    BEEEEEZ We miss you!

  13. Carmelo Anthony
    9:20 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Can a freshman lead a team to an NCAA title? I think I already answered that question.

    #10… as for Knight not leading by example, you’re talking about on the court only. By all accounts his work ethic was/is remarkable, and that’s also leading by example.

    Overall I agree with the premise of this post. MKG is clearly providing types of leadership to this team the previous two teams lacked. But his greatest leadership quality, to me, is his ability to rise to the top when the going gets toughest and others are wilting or backing down. THAT is the kind of quality that a team needs to make it through the tournament.

  14. Sam
    9:22 am January 4, 2012 Permalink


  15. yeah first
    9:35 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    So teague is the anti-MKG…………..

  16. Doug
    9:35 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    We need more Wayne Turner – second best UK player ever!

  17. James
    9:41 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    John Wall and Patrick Patterson were the leaders in 2009-2010

    Brandon Knight was the leader in 2010-2011

    This post, like all the others from these college girls, is completely stupid.

  18. Rose
    9:47 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    MKG has the maturity of a 40 year old in an 18 year old body. He understands the consequences of his actions and is trying to instill this in his fellow team-mates. He practices like he plays therfore he plays like he practices. Not a bad work ethic!

  19. Nassau65
    9:47 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    9. haven’t you had enough yet? go away tard.

  20. John W
    9:51 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Can’t say I disagree. It can be argued that Knight was a leader, but he was also more of the quiet type and neither he or some of the other leaders of last years team didn’t go out of their way to lead like MKG has with the breakfast club. Good post.

  21. James
    9:57 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks for deleting my post for being honest. Keep up the great work KSR.

  22. Abe Froman
    10:03 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not so sure about having a freshman as a leader when you already have to seniors, but if anyone can do it, MKG can.

  23. Abe Froman
    10:04 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Editing my last post: two seniors, not to.

  24. NineSec95
    10:20 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    As far as talent we have the most overall talent on one team. But Teague needs a lot of improvement. There’s 6 different guys that can score on this team. Oponents will have to pick there poison to whom they double team. What we need is to start hitting from the 3 consistently.

  25. JimR
    10:28 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Laura is right on the money about “Example is Leadership.” This team is loaded with talent, and once the rest will get their heads totally into the game, as MKG demonstrates, #8 is quite possible. As Laura points out, MKG has the heart and passion; let’s hope it’s contagious. How to get them to play hard all of the time? Coach Cal would do well to look to Coach Rick for that answer; Pitino always has his players focused and scrambling for all they’re worth. Mutter what you will, but Rick’s teams play their hearts out for him.

  26. BBN
    12:30 pm January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Anthony Davis’ take….
    “They had more energy, more intensity, more toughness than us,” Davis said. “In the second half, we all got together as a group. Darius brought us together and said, `Let’s step it up. Let’s go out there and win.’ We’ve got a big game coming up on Saturday to start conference (play).”

    I think we have a senior on our team who is greatly underappreciated.

  27. shields eyes
    1:44 pm January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Worst post ever.