Thanks to a bit of crazy scheduling, I’m here with only my second ever Tuesday night post.
If you’re like me, and enjoy putting off important studying in favor of watching great college basketball games on Sunday afternoons, then you most certainly glimpsed the Purdue Boilermakers beat down of Ohio State in West Lafayette. In the game, E’Twaun Moore put on one of the best scoring displays of the season by torching the Buckeyes for 38 points on 13 of 18 shooting, including 7 of 10 from behind the three-point line.
Purdue is a team that lost its best player, Robbie Hummel, to an ACL injury at the beginning of the season, yet has been able to linger in the top 15 all year on the back of its two stars, Moore and JaJuan Johnson, and a cast of supporting players. However with Hummel, the Boilermakers not only would have been a popular pick to go far in the tournament, but also to finish the season as national champions.
I couldn’t help but spot the parallel to UK’s season after the loss of Enes Kanter, a player that many considered to be the best recruit on a roster of highly touted recruits. With Kanter, the Wildcats would have been a Final Four favorite and would most definitely have a better record than the current mark of 19 and 7.
Here’s my question to you: Which team would be better off if they had their star for the season and subsequent tournament run?
As an unabashed homer, I can confidently say that the Cats with Kanter would benefit more. Hummel is a fantastic player and there is no denying that the Boilermakers would be one of, if not, the best team in the country with him. However, his play is too similar to that of Moore and Johnson to make the same impact as Kanter, a player totally different than any on the Wildcats roster. UK has lacked the dominant inside presence that existed with Cousins, Patterson and Orton last season. This isn’t a knock on Jorts, who has played above and beyond our expectations in the absence of Kanter, but instead an assertion that with both Kanter and Jorts, UK would have presented as deep and as formidable a one-two punch at the center position as any team in the nation.
Simply enough with Enes, UK doesn’t have 7 losses, a first round bye in the SEC tournament is already assured and the anticipation for banner number eight is at a fever pitch in the Bluegrass.
What do you think?
Which team misses out more because of their benched star?