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Four reasons Kentucky is favorite to repeat

(Getty Images/Jeff Gross)

The Bleacher Report is great, and it’s been even better reading this season with the success Kentucky had on the court. Articles are constantly making the site headers about the Wildcats and Calipari, and Eric Vincent wrote an article today detailing four reasons Kentucky will be favorites to repeat as Champs.

1. Recruits

It’s pretty obvious this one, but Calipari goes after the best of the best. And more often than not, he gets his guys and builds championship teams around kids fresh out of high school. Any doubts still circling around the heads of rival fans or green-eyed competitors about Calipari’s formula have been crushed. You can win with one-and-done’s. In fact, you can win 38 games with one-and-done’s. You can be one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the nation with one-and-done’s. And you can be a favorite to win back-to-back titles with one-and-done’s.

Kentucky will lose Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and other stars to the NBA next season. Even after all their achievements, the Wildcats already have a promising group of recruits capable of duplicating last season’s success.

Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Will Cauley and  Nerlens Noel are four of the top 40 rated prospects on Rivals.com, and all have committed to playing for Kentucky next season.

There isn’t another coach in the country that can do what John Calipari can: Be the best recruiter imaginable, be a coach players love to play for, build a winning game plan, and basically start from scratch every 12 months. It is incredible what he has done at Kentucky so far, and the fact he loves what he does so much is the reason it’s so fun for us fans.

2. Calipari finally got his first

It may have been understated in the media — but the fact John Calipari was without a title to his name was his one real drawback from his Hall of Fame résumé. Now that weight has been lifted and any pressure of living up to his predecessors at Kentucky has vanished. It’s time to just go out and coach.

It’s not a guarantee that he and the Wildcats will return to the promise land, but the path to a successful career gets a bit easier after lifting that monkey off your back.

As the defending champs, Kentucky will get everyone’s best shot next season. Champions always earn a target on their back the following year, and teams look to make an example out of them.

However, after finally winning that first title, Calipari is able to stop wondering about when the first will come and can now just coach his team.

It may sound trivial, but you only need to look at how giddy Calipari was hoisting the trophy. True, any college coach will be ecstatic winning it all — the pinnacle of the entire college basketball season — but I, along with many of my colleagues, have never see Calipari that happy. He looked like he wanted to jump from here to the moon after stepping off the team bus in Rupp Arena during the victory celebration. Calipari wanted that title to his name, and now he’s got it.

3. Weak SEC

The SEC was down a season ago, while prospects were fairly high. Florida looked dominate, Vanderbilt was seasoned, Mississippi State was loaded with talent. And of course, Kentucky was Kentucky. But all-in-all the conference did not live up to even modest expectations. Looking ahed, it seems likely we’ll see more of the same.

Outside of Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference is likely to lose lots of its star players to the NBA (Bradley Beal, Arnett Moultrie, Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins). These were some of the best players in the country, and will be a huge loss as the SEC will look to rebuild some of its teams.

As long as Calipari continues to recruit strong, the SEC will continue to struggle to keep pace with Kentucky.

Kentucky is in a league of its own in rebuilding — rather, reloading — its team. But the rest of the league will suffer in losing some of this talent. Surely Tennessee will be up as Cuonzo Martin did an exceptional job with that team last season. Anthony Grant and Alabama look to continue the Crimson Tide’s rise in the college basketball world. Arkansas will enter year two of the Mike Anderson era hoping for a return to former glory. And of course, we await the arrival of Frank Martin at South Carolina. There is a lot to be excited about in SEC basketball, but it might just have to wait another couple of years.

4. Calipari teams just win

All we do is win. Calipari has an uncanny knack for having winning teams, no matter what. His overall head coaching record is 505-151 (77%), putting him on pace to finish among or better than coaching legends like Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, and dare I say, Adolph Rupp. In 20 years as a college head coach he’s had only one losing record — his very first season at Massachusetts. By his fourth year he had the Minutemen in the Sweet Sixteen. Since then he’s never looked back.

Whether it’s Massachusetts in 1995-96, Memphis in 2007-08, or Kentucky last season, Calipari knows what it takes to win, and he brings that winning attitude everywhere he goes.

Winning has become contagious in every locker room Calipari enters. He knows what it takes to win, and it only makes life easier when playing with a high-quality roster.

Do the math. If Calipari keep this up and retires at Kentucky after ten years, we may be talking about one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. History in the making folks, are we are a part of it as the Big Blue Nation.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

27 Comments for Four reasons Kentucky is favorite to repeat



  1. TJ's SowerTude
    9:02 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Yes. Our conference is horrible. That’s a strength?



  2. Skeps
    9:04 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    SEC is good. Also they won’t repeat without some experience on the team.



  3. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    9:08 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    We are going to need to find someone that can shoot the trey outside of Wiltjer. Also a little worried that we only have two guards in harrow and Goodwin



  4. crazycatfan
    9:15 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I’M EXCITED!!!!



  5. Bean
    9:19 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    http://WWW.KENTUCKYBASKETBALLFORUM.COM

    Kentucky will not repeat. Chances this comment is deleted…..99%.

    Who is our sixth man? Hyphen-Cauley? Hoody Hood? HA! We need Bennett!!!



  6. The truth
    9:25 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    What do you know another terrible post by Stuart. No wonder he isn’t getting paid.



  7. Wildcat_Crazy
    9:26 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    For everyone saying UK will repeat, it will not happen without Bennett and unlikely even with him. Experience factor and long range shooting will hurt the young Cats.

    For those saying UK will not be very good next year, get over yourself. While a championship repeat is unlikely, a very good season is not. This team should have a season comparable to the 2010-2011 team, expect 5-6 SEC stumbles (mostly on the road). However, expect no more than 7-8 losses and at least a sweet 16 run.



  8. Word mania
    9:26 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    This site just gets worse by the post.



  9. Mike
    9:28 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I actually think Calipari will be more lax with his rotation and more willing to develop a bench next season. Now that he doesn’t have the pressure of trying to win it all I think he will be willing to take more of a risk on Twany, Hood, and maybe even Polson next season. We could be better for it. Our only true weakness the last couple of years has been a lack of depth.



  10. Wildcat_Crazy
    9:29 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    For those holding out hope one or more players will return, don’t. I say these simply because all the players are announcing together they say anyway, and if that is the case then they all will be doing the same thing. If they held seperate pressers than a lot more likely one or two may come back but as of right now they are saying they will announce together.



  11. Wildcat_Crazy
    9:30 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    *I say this*



  12. Wakecat
    9:40 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Not a hater at all. Huge UK fan. But there are many reasons we should not be the favorite to repeat. The three main ones:
    (1) Who is the “get us up / keep us intense” guy. MKG meant so much more to this team than the stat sheet showed. Although a freshman, he was the heart of the team and he made others remain tough and fierce during tight / tense times. Who fills this role? Poythress?
    (2) Senior / Upper-classmen leadership? Darius played a huge role in being a steadying force for the younger guys and advising them about situations / adversity the freshman had not seen before. Who fills this role? Wiltjer? Harrow?
    (3) Davis was a once in a gerneration player. Noel is great. Nole will be great. But expecting a freshman to equal a person on defense who was the greatest defensive big man / player in UK history (and 4th best in NCAA – blocks history) is unrealistic. And Davis was better offensively than Noel has potential to be in year one.
    I say lets pull back on the expectations and predictions for next year. Holding these guys (who will be great)to last year’s standards is unfair and will lead to anger, disappointment, and frustration on these boards. We’re a top 5-10 team with a chance to make a run. Enjoy next season without unfair expectations.



  13. Rock Slyde
    9:43 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Calipari teams just win….really



  14. Steve
    9:51 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    This year we had 3 of the 6 players getting time returning as starters from the previous year (Miller, Lamb, Jones.) Next year we won’t have any.

    Harrow, Wilter and Hood should see time next year. We now have 4 recruits in the bag, but we have 2 centers. That’s one deep in every position except SF & C – PG Harrow, SG Goodwin, SF – Poythress/Hood, PF – Wiltjer, C Noel/Cauley.

    If we don’t get Bennett at PF, then this will a thin team, as well as completely inexperienced team, except for the few minutes Wiltjer played. It will be a big climb to make it to the final four, much less a campionship.



  15. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    9:55 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    People need to keep in mind what the rest of college basketball will look like. IU and UL will likely be the two teams ranked ahead of us preseason. Experience aside, would you really take their rosters over ours?



  16. DesignatedDrinker
    10:00 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    This repeat talk is annoying. #1 recruiting class ok. Is Darius coming back for a fifth year? Are we going to have 2 freshmen returning like last year? I mean, honestly enjoy number 8. A lot more questions about next years roster than there was this year IF they all 5 declare. People who are talking about repeating are really revealing how little they know about college basketball or any sport for that matter.



  17. DesignatedDrinker
    10:07 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    And yes I would take IU’s roster over ours if all 5 declare and we add Bennett. Google their roster, then google their recruits. Then quit being so emotional about it, which you probably can’t #15. Now UL might have one lottery pick on their roster and their 1 recruit is ineligible, so they don’t deserve the hype. I hate both those teams but my dislike for them doesn’t mean they aren’t good.



  18. JT
    10:14 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Conversation about the SEC next year and NO mention of Missouri?



  19. cats11
    10:22 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Anyone can write for Bleacher Report. Literally. Even Stuart Hammer.



  20. WhatSheOrder?FishFilet?
    10:24 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    16/17 …. I’m not saying their rosters aren’t good, they’re preseason #1 and #2. I’m just saying that we have a chance to be to win the championship again. If you have a preseason top 5 team, you have to like your chances (save UConn last year).



  21. Bleed Blue
    10:55 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Put number 5 as Lamb is coming back. I’m telling you all he is just wait and see.



  22. Bleed Blue
    10:56 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Lamb is coming back. I’m telling you all he is just wait and see.



  23. madarchitect
    11:10 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    promise land? dominate?



  24. BenM
    1:24 am April 17, 2012 Permalink

    16/60 mock draft picks in the SEC (if you count Missouri)…fun fact



  25. John Lear
    6:42 am April 17, 2012 Permalink

    #21 no matter how many times you post that its not gonna happen. Sorry buddy.



  26. Davis
    10:21 am April 17, 2012 Permalink

    A weak SEC will not be a help for this upcoming team. They also are not as talented a bunch as this current team so I cannot buy into this. They will not repeat.



  27. Justin
    2:23 pm April 17, 2012 Permalink

    the sec is not weak.
    our most experienced player is jon hood…
    the sec doesnt effect uks tournament… cus when did we play a sec team in the tournament last year?
    KSR does not screen their posters for sport knowledge.