People near and far are trying to decide just what exactly is wrong with the Cats these days, and Jeff Goodman took his shot today. His diagnosis hinges on what he believes the Cats lack the most…Leadership:
John Calipari is doing all he can with this group.
Just think about this: Kentucky remains in the Top 25 with Josh Harrellson logging big minutes in the middle and Jon Hood and Eloy Vargas occupying the seventh and eighth spots in the rotation.
Calipari also has virtually no leadership.
A year ago, he had the combination of rock-solid veteran Patrick Patterson and poised freshman John Wall. This year he has to rely on Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones to lead.
Although Knight played extremely well on Saturday night and nearly led Kentucky to a much-needed road win, he’s just not cut out to be a leader.
Jones almost has been thrust into the role, as well, but he’s not ready, either.
However, Calipari has no other option. DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller, the team’s two upperclassmen, are quiet followers. Harrellson has gotten the most out of his ability, but let’s be honest: No one is following his lead.
Now, agreeing with Goodman is usually about as successful as going into a debate using only notes drawn up by BTI, but he makes a few salient points, as the overall leadership on this team clearly doesn’t compare to last year’s. The one thing I have to take issue with him on, though, is the notion that Brandon Knight is ‘just not cut out to be a leader.’ Excuse me while I chuckle a little bit at that.
This is, after all, the same Brandon Knight that put the team on his back Saturday night when it looked like they were on the cusp of getting run out of the gym. The same guy whose second-half emotion lifted the rest of the team to a huge comeback against the team leading their division in the SEC. The same guy who was named a finalist for the Cousy Award, just today. I guess what I don’t understand is, would he still not be cut out to be a leader if his buzzer-beating three had fallen against the Gators?
I’m a little puzzled, because the idea of leadership that I carry has pretty much nothing to do with hitting threes at the horn. It has more to do with the things Knight did before that point to even give the Cats an opportunity to win. With a 13-point lead, the game was Florida’s to take, to beat the Cats down and announce themselves as the class of the SEC by a wide margin. And they would have, had it not been for Knight leading the Cats to a gritty comeback. But, since the Cats lost, apparently he must not really be a leader, with the difference between the two extremes coming in the form of a missed shot at the end of a game. In reality, though, the fact that there was even a shot to take is a pretty big testament to just the type of leader he is.
You can call Kentucky young, you can bemoan their lack of depth or inside scoring, or wonder when the upperclassmen will step all the way up. Yes, Kentucky has issues, and there’s no question about that. But Brandon Knight not being ‘cut out to be a leader’ is decidedly not one of them. That, I’m sure of.