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“We’ve got a long way to go…”

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There’s a widespread sentiment that John Calipari is prone to hyperbole, be it negative or positive.  That much is certain.  I’m fine with it – it’s a common tool of ‘coachspeak’.  The trick is knowing how to sift through the extraneous garb and hold on to the true nuggets. After the UALR game, Coach Cal uttered this over and over:

“We’ve got a long way to go.”

When you think about how talented this Wildcat roster is, Cal’s line feels like a bit of that hyperbolized coachspeak.  UK has lost one game out of their first fifteen, they’ve held a top-tier ranking all season, they’ve got several lottery picks, and their lone loss came on the road with a buzzer beating three.  The Cats are in a position that almost every team in American can dream of.  They’re one of the kings of college basketball this year, but I have a feeling Coach Cal hit the nail on the head.  This team has a long, long way to go.

Sitting with Matt and Drew on the Freedom Hall sideline, I witnessed a pack of NBA-talented kids struggle to put up 27 points in the first half.  That’s pathetic.  They could play the five best individual position defenders in the country and still should be able to score much more than that in one half with their star-studded lineup.  While it was awesome to watch Anthony Davis cram alley-oop dunks on fools, it was extremely frustrating to watch these super-talented players fail to perform anything resembling a fluid offense.  The second half proved to be much better, as we all noticed, but it still wasn’t at a level these kids should be at heading into SEC play.  The level of skill and athleticism can be seen, but the distance these guys are from their full potential is excruciatingly far.  Yes, the Cats are very, very good.  But to be honest, we’ve won several games on pure talent/athleticism.

Cal and crew talk about two other things consistently these days: 1) how UK is everyone’s Super Bowl and they bring their best shot and 2) how frustrating it is to coach a team full of freshman.  While both of these are true in their own right, there’s more to this below-potential product than the play of the opponent.  It partly has to do with the young age of the team, but one certain ‘veteran’ may be the most frustrating player.  I certainly don’t think their is one true answer to why this team isn’t near their ceiling.  Terrence Jones incurred the injury and has fallen back into playing in his unsuccessful ‘comfortable’ style game.  Marquis Teague, as Beisner perfectly analogized last night, is wasting his elite skills by playing without drive and intelligence. The offense feels like a combination of forcing it recklessly into the defense, not creating open shots, and not being controlled by a ‘floor general’.  But we all know this.

The idea that this team is sitting at about a 4.9758 on their own personal-potential scale of 1-10 is incredibly disappointing and frustrating.  South Carolina and the rest of the SEC are right around the corner – lurking and waiting to steal a road game from the haughty Cats.  However, on a much bright note and in the broad spectrum of college basketball, that 4.9758 is better than most of America’s perfect 10.  That’s something to be excited about.  This season’s team has time to improve and solidify their spot at the top.

Last year’s Final Four team didn’t hit their season low until the last SEC road loss, then they peaked near their potential at the perfect time: in March.  For the 2011-2012 team, their perfect 10 may be a bit away, but if they get anywhere near it, then Coach Cal was right — this team and season have a long, long way to go.  Hopefully ending on April 2nd in New Orleans.

Article written by Chris Thomas

21 Comments for “We’ve got a long way to go…”



  1. road_warri0r
    9:13 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Coach Cal can do wonders, but even he isnt a miracle worker, but he comes closer than any coach around in my opininon. In two months when lets hope this team is up to a 9.8753 instead of their present 4.9758 of potential level.



  2. bluesince66
    9:26 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Man if we had Brandon Knight back how good would we be? Team looked much better with Lamb running the point.



  3. yeah first
    9:31 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    YES!!! @ 2!!! Why does everyone fight me when I say we look better with Lamb at the point?? Why does no one else see it? I know it took wall and knight time to ramp up but I saw something in them that made me wait. I don’t want to wait with our current point. sit him down and have him back lamb up. or just sit him period



  4. Kidnut
    9:33 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Lamb at point makes the team look better but potentially the team will be better with Teague running the point. So you try to reach that potential and that is what Cal is trying to do.



  5. catcrawler
    9:36 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    If Teague doesn’t get sh*t right, then have him come off the bench. I like a lineup of Lamb, Miller, MKG, Jones, Davis.
    Teague must become an extension of Cal on the floor.



  6. stevie
    9:38 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Cal has had 4 straight point guard lottery picks. I cannot possibly see how it will be 5 in a row.



  7. gocats
    9:43 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Was this post proofread at all? Not that I don’t agree with the idea that “we’ve got a long way to go…”



  8. barn
    9:45 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    teague will be solid by the end of sec play. whether he will be lottery pick good remains to be seen. we’ll be a much tougher team after this next 2 months.



  9. Stan
    9:47 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    My hope is it is a long road to March, maybe going on the road in the SEC will mature them. They have the talent, no doubt about that.I’m not ready to hit the panic button yet, but everyone is right, teague at this time isn’t our best option.



  10. Felton John
    9:48 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    What I saw last night was a UK team paralized with fear. If I had to guess, the two-a-day practices – along with Cal’s ego-driven courtside rage displays – are beginning to beat these guys down. I mean, honestly, the way he blasted Lamb in front of the 10,000 in attendance had to be embarrassing for the kid…I know it was embarrassing to watch. And if he’s blasting them like this in public then it must be twice as bad in practice.

    These guys actually look WORSE than they did a month ago!! How is that possible?

    I’m a firm believer in coaching players hard and holding them accountable. But constantly showing them up on national TV (or the interwebs)…why? Once in a while? Sure. It can get the player’s attention and serve as motivation. But when it happens constantly??? …come on.



  11. yeah first
    9:50 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    I say bench teague for lamb starting at point. He is 100 times better than teague. sure it takes lamb out of a great spot but teague is the anti-MKG



  12. warrior
    9:53 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Big BLUE Nation take over Knoxville Jan 14th…… uttix.com



  13. buk
    9:55 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    I love Cal to death, but I sometimes wonder if he has as much control over this team as he has had over his previous two. However, I will say that if they haven’t vastly improved within a month I would be surprised. After we get a few higly competitive conference games under our belt, I’m thinking they will kick it into gear.



  14. Lovelease
    9:56 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Teague
    Jones
    Lamb
    Listen to me
    Cal is doing this cause you all CAN win a national title
    You all canake Millions in the nba

    So he is pishing to make that happen

    Just do it and win a title and be freackin rich!!!!!



  15. mgcat
    9:56 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Def Leppard and Van Halen mentioned on KSR both in the same day. I see a theme taking shape here.



  16. buk
    9:58 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    4) You are absolutely right. Cal will never put Lamb at the point permanently, not on this team.



  17. gottodoit
    10:03 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    10 hit it head-on.



  18. Al's IndiCats
    10:04 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    10, say what you will about the way Cal may coach, but I have a son who coached in a simular manner, that when the kid came out of the game he’d yell like hell telling him this and that but he also yelled at them when they done a great play saying that was a greatest play I ever saw. So you go with what may work.



  19. NBA league pass
    11:19 am January 4, 2012 Permalink

    I do not want Lamb playing point. His best attribute is coming around screens and nailing three’s, not being a distributor. He is better than Teague now, but we all better HOPE that isn’t the case by the end of the year. only way Teague gets better is by playing him, not benching him now.



  20. What
    6:40 pm January 4, 2012 Permalink

    Why everyone is perennially surprised when a team full of freshmen isn’t firing on all cylinders by the first of January is beyond me. Give it time and stop with the knee-jerk fearmongering. We’ll be fine.



  21. Barry Dailing
    2:14 am January 5, 2012 Permalink

    I’m really astonished at the vitriol this has inspired. Happily, few people are forced to read fiction they would prefer to eschew, most of you here are safe. Your copy of P&P will remain unblemishe-d, no one is adding chapters to the original. I fail to understand the distress. diablo 3 gold