At Big Blue Madness this year, Coach Cal revealed the theme for this year’s team: “The Kentucky Effect.” He gave a lengthy and rousing speech about his new catchphrase, which he described as the elite environment at UK that promotes and cultivates top talent through dedication and teamwork, and rewards those who work it with championships and NBA careers. Cal discussed how the Kentucky Effect changes players’ lives and makes UK the best program in college basketball. While the Kentucky Effect largely has positive connotations, there are a few drawbacks: it’s not for everyone. For instance, some recruits (cough, DaJuan Coleman) can’t handle the spotlight placed on them when they commit to being a Wildcat, much less the fishbowl they’ll live in for the foreseeable future.
After the game last night, Cal mentioned another drawback of the Kentucky Effect: the hyperbole of criticism and praise placed upon its players, most recently Terrence Jones.
“When he comes back, he’s an All-American. He’s one of our best players. There is the other side of the Kentucky effect. The Kentucky effect is you could present it in a way that everything happens in a good (way). But when something goes wrong, it goes the other way a 1,000 times over. So the Kentucky effect works both ways.
“You don’t play well, and all of a sudden the world is ending. Oh my gosh, he stinks and that’s the other side of this.”
Despite the fact that he’s currently on the bench with a pinky injury, Jones has remained a headline in the national media’s coverage of the Cats. Last night, ESPN2 analyst Jay Williams reamed Jones for his recent play, saying that in order for Kentucky to win the National Championship, Jones must “man up” and Yahoo Sports’ Mike Huguenin says he isn’t living up to preseason expectations (Huguenin goes as far as to say that Anthony Davis has “put Jones off his game a bit”). While I found Jones’ attitude pre-pinky injury perplexing, it’s hard to kick a guy while he’s down (hell, I still can’t handle looking at the picture of the injury).
Is the national media being too harsh on Jones? Or is Cal correct when he says the Kentucky Effect is partly to blame?