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Under Pressure

Last year, Kentucky disproved the (now-antiquated) notion that freshmen can’t win it all.  The Fab Five had tried before, they said, and if Michigan couldn’t do it, no team that young can.  Well, “they” can eat it.  Davis and Co. may or may not have changed the way Calipari’s teams function, or the way that schools nationwide recruit, but it certainly validated the idea that you go for talent first, experience second.

While the championship has likely affected the attitudes of coaches and pundits everywhere, it’s also visibly affected the goals of incoming recruits.  Our incoming guys now make it very clear that their main goal is to win a national championship of their own, and I think that’s great.  Particularly the Nerlens Noel “Gotta get #9” tweets.  Take that, Jay Bilas.

But the increase in excitement for these kids, and more importantly the precedent set for them, has also put a world of pressure on them as well.  Is it too much?  We are still talking about current high school seniors, after all.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil has noticed the increase in expectation, and says the bar now, for Kentucky, is not that freshmen “can” win it all, but “should” win it all.

O’Neil also had a line about how last year’s team “joined forces like The Avengers,” which, while I appreciate the reference, implies that Anthony Davis and MKG had a knockdown brawl in a forest somewhere, which I don’t think is true at all.  And she may have outkicked her coverage on a few of her other statements, especially one noting that John Wall and a number of other young stars “dazzled during their six months on campus.”  I’m sure she knows that Wall, at least, finished the entire year, and wasn’t trying to be an instigator (hopefully).  But she raises good points on how the standard for freshmen has been drastically changed, and schools like Kentucky and UCLA now can fairly be whipped into a frenzy with incoming classes like the ones on tap.

But here’s why I bring all of this up: I absolutely think that next year’s Cats can win it all, but it’s not fair to think that failure to do so is a disappointment.  We’re a little spoiled right now with all the success (or at least I am), and while that’s a great feeling, it can skew our rationality.  The bar has been raised, for sure, but we should be careful not to raise it too high.  Next year’s Cats have a distinct challenge in that they are substantially younger than even their 2012 counterparts.  Does that mean we should count them out?  Certainly not.  But it does mean that, once again, these guys will have to learn and progress at an alarming rate as the season goes on.

A championship “freshman” team is possible, but it is unbelievably difficult.  Freshmen shouldn’t be expected to win it all, but a title shouldn’t be discounted because of their age either.  Age is just a number, but maturity is what counts.  From what I’ve seen, these new guys are pretty mature.  And while we can’t expect a title from them, because that sort of expectation is unfair on almost any team, we can expect to have a great season.

Pressure be darned.

Article written by Corey Nichols

42 Comments for Under Pressure

  1. Really
    9:03 am May 8, 2012 Permalink


  2. the Rock
    9:08 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    come on!!

  3. Dickie Z
    9:09 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    So you read an article on ESPN, link us, and provided no useful commentary? Classic Corey Nichols!

  4. UKblue
    9:09 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Look at the IU board and you’ll soon find out this year’s championship was an anomaly. According to them, Cal probably won’t ever be able to have another group that special or win another title.

  5. Dickie Z
    9:10 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Oh, almost forgot – Corey Nichols Sucks!

  6. Devastation INC
    9:10 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Who cares what you think. Go get you man crush back on with Clooney and stay off this site.

  7. Rockfield,KY
    9:11 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Anyone see this article about UNC’s football academic violations? They’re now implicating the basketball team too. Even Thamel is tweeting about them.

  8. Ready 5
    9:12 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    You give O’Neil far too much credit. Have you not read her garbage before? She knew exactly what she was doing with that statement about Wall.

  9. kk
    9:19 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    O’Neil didn’t write the ESPN piece. It was Myron Medcalf. Click on it and check the byline at the top.

  10. Ty
    9:19 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Ummm…… O’Neill didn’t write that. Myron Metcalf did.

  11. Vanilla Ice
    9:22 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    There’s goes: Ding ding ding diga ding ding….Ding ding ding diga ding ding

    Our’s goes: Ding ding ding diga ding ding… ting….Ding ding ding diga ding ding

    See, it’s that littel ting in the middle.

  12. Manbearpig
    9:22 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    WTF did I just read?

  13. kentuckyjoe
    9:25 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Number 9 depends a lot of Kyle Wiltjer. If he puts up zillions of threes this summer and works on all parts of his game he could be totally huge next year. I think he has ‘unstoppable’ in his list of possibilities. Raining threes and then being huge on the boards and on defense. With a baby hook thrown in every now and then for good measure. He’s gotta work hard this summer; it’s a simple as that.

  14. bluebiscuit
    9:33 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Didnt realize David Bowie was friends with Richie Farmer. Wonder if that photo was taken in Manchester England or Manchester KY?

  15. Jumpman78
    9:34 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Hate to say this but the Fab 5 faced tougher competition in their two final fours than we did.

  16. Manbearpig
    9:34 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    On another note Grantland just posted an article from Steve Kerr about an NBA age limit

  17. Really Poor
    9:34 am May 8, 2012 Permalink


  18. Tony Starks Forgotten Cousin
    9:35 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    The knock-down, drag-out brawl in the forest was between Terrence Jones, MKG, and Anthony Davis. Dana needs to check her facts.

  19. come on
    9:43 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    its not about youth and inexperience or about experience….its about whats in the chest!!! And how bad you want it.

  20. Paducah UK fan
    9:43 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Think about this KSR readers, Cal does more than recruit tallent. He recruits, and gets the players with a high B’ball IQ, smart and extremely athletic, players that will be willing to put in on the line for—the team. Players that will be a minimum of trouble, players that can get out in public and make us proud to call them UK players. Players that can be role model for our kids. And most of all “Players that GET IT!!” Leave the worrying about recruiting to Coach Cal, he may be ok with not getting most of the ones the KSR readers thought we should get. He seems to do pretty good, so I am not going to worry. Even in the worse case, his teams are a lot more fun to watch than BG or the tub teams during all but maybe his first year. Hey, but keep up the chatter, gives me something to read and keeps my interest up–on a daily basis. Go CATS, #9 this year is ok with me.

  21. Doesn't Get It
    9:43 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    When will someone point out that there should be little comparison to the Fab 5? They were 5 freshmen. We won it all with only 3 freshmen in the starting lineup and 2 sophomores, anchored by an amazing senior. Let’s stop with the Fab 5 comparison as it is truly not an apples to apples comparison.

  22. Al's IndiCats
    9:45 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    I bring this up for one reason #7, I know Thamel is all about going after teams that may or may not have been in the wrong. But what I’m asking Old Petey to do is why he has NOT dug a little deeper into the Syracuse fiasco from last Feburary and March? How does one become ineligible one month, become eligible for 3 weeks long enough play themselves into the conference tourny, then become ineligible again without old Petey boy sticking his Northeastern digging nose a little deeper? Now he’s going after an ACC school, when in his own back yard he’s skirting around a possible season being vacated. For all you who may have Eric Crawford as your face Book friend, ask him also. It was quite comical on his reply. He defended Thamel like a sleezy sister who had all his friends all on one night…..

  23. jra
    9:49 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    You people can talk about the chances of winning number 9. Me, I am going to enjoy the journey, the destination will take care of itself. These young players will be so much fun to watch.

  24. Rock Slyde
    9:49 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    I didn’t know Dana O’Neil was the ‘tanning mom’? Who knew!!! Great work Corey.

  25. Beatle Bum
    9:50 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    The expectations for next year will be set in November and December, not May. That will be how it goes. Only when the team hits the floor and we see its strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth will we be able to assess the potential of a NC.

  26. Hoss_Cat
    9:56 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t be talkin sh1t to bilas. Everyone likes him Mr. Nichols. Also, we aren’t going to win the championship with 5 players. We’d be 1 injury away from not going far in the tourny at all.

  27. MyronPryorsLivingRoom
    9:59 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Q: Why does everyone on KSR hate Corey Nichols?
    A: Because he’s Corey Nichols.

    Seriously, folks. This is just sad.

  28. comebackcats
    10:03 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    ha love the vanilla ice reference! couldnt have said it better myself.

  29. Lexington Catholic 5th grade class
    10:09 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Gosh darn, who hates Corey! I mean golly gee wilikers folks I like his writing. Kind of a mix between Mark Twain and Mark Emmert. Cant wait to read his next post, lord willing and the creek dont rise.

  30. Manbearpig
    10:13 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    #27 I can not speak for everyone else, but I feel like Corey is the weakest link on KSR and most of his posts are not well written (take the Bilas jab today when Bilas has been one of the few in the UK/Cal corner consistently) and just state completely obvious points and bring little substance to the table. BTI actually embraced the hate and used it to stir up nice talking points (on occasion).

  31. tyrus
    10:13 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Frankly I could give a rats ass less if the players are all freshman or five year seniors. As a fan it means absolutely zilch to me. Why should it? WINNING IS EVERYTHING! Also, I don’t read every freaking UK article some know-nothing ESPN writer puts out on the web. Well while I’m at it, there’s too much cut-and-paste posts going on with this site.

  32. bmt22033
    10:26 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    But the freshmen *didn’t* win it all. At least not by themselves. Yes, they were a HUGE part of the teams success. But without Lamb, Jones and Miller, UK doesn’t bring home that trophy. This is purely a matter of opinion but if you replaced Lamb and Jones with their respective freshmen selves, I personally don’t think the outcome would have been the same. But regardless of whether you agree or disagree with that, no one can argue the importance of Darius Miller to this team. And without him, the team *definitely* doesn’t win the championship.

  33. Real UK Fan
    10:40 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, Tony is a typical Louisville fan, when confronted with the facts like you did, all he can do is try to yell and not let you talk. Thanks for stating the facts even if he refuses to listen.

  34. lovemycats
    10:49 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    21) you are so right….but our three are so much than their five were.

  35. GrumpyOldDude
    10:54 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Dana O’Neill? Might want to check that byline again there, Hemingway……

  36. HicksPickSix
    11:05 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    #30 hit the nail on the head. Say what you will about BTI, but his posts had substance. Similarly, I’m tired of the “This is a free site, and you get what you pay for” argument. The reason many of us–including myself–come here on a daily basis is because of the quality of the writing/posts.

  37. Deacon
    11:26 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Cal’s first team had upper classman Patterson; his second had Liggins-Miller; and, this
    year’s team had Miller. There is no one even close to providing that type of leadership
    next year. If he “milks” this team to the “sweet sixteen”, my hat is off to him!!!

  38. G
    11:29 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Not fair to think they should win it all? The mere fact that you’re even bringing this up without even seeing the product on the court says it all. Have you forgotten who your audience is? Winning it all appears to be a perceived birthright in Kentucky.

  39. BooCat
    11:34 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Corey you are consistent with your sucking

  40. jpgott2
    11:45 am May 8, 2012 Permalink

    The media adds to the expectations, and actually wants them to be greater, because they want there to be more clicks on their articles! They want the boards to be lit up with angry fans of other teams, and the over powering fandom of UK.

  41. Beatle Bum
    12:24 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Who is Corey Nichols? Doesn’t Matt Jones ghost write everything on this site? Including this posting?

  42. Dee
    1:05 pm May 8, 2012 Permalink

    Corey…..I’m going to use the rule of if you can’t something nice….don’t say anything….so here’s what I thought of this post…..”………………………………………”…..btw…..stop “TRYING” to be funny and your writing may improve….thanks. have a great day.