They always say New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken, but what’s the harm in trying? Each year, I set some goals for myself, even if the bar gets lower and lower as I get older. As long as the goals are within reach, it’s a healthy habit, right?
2015 was an up-and-down year for UK sports. The basketball team almost reached the highest of heights while the football team failed to clear the year three hurdle of bowl eligibility. We can all improve on something, so with that in mind, here are some New Year’s Resolutions for your favorite Wildcats.
Isaiah Briscoe: Better Free Throw Shooting
Briscoe’s been such a pleasant surprise most of the season that it’s hard to criticize him for much, but one thing the freshman must improve on is his free throw shooting. Right now, he’s shooting a paltry 37.5% from the charity stripe, a stat that becomes even more appalling when you hear he was a 78% free throw shooter in high school. What the what? 1,000 free throws a week for him in 2016.
Skal Labissiere: Focus
Skal’s got a lot of people telling him what to do right now — some in not so nice a manner — so in 2016, I just hope he can maintain his focus. The distractions have to be deafening and it’s clear his confidence is shot. The microwave nature of the one-and-done culture isn’t easy, especially under the spotlight at Kentucky. Skal just needs to keep his head down, forget about what may or may not happen in June, and keep improving.
Jamal Murray: Go for the easy shot first
We all know Murray’s talented; he’s proved that plenty of times this season. However, Murray spends way too much time going for the SportsCenter Top 10 shot than settling for an easy layup or jumper. Like Calipari said on Monday night, Murray needs to worry less about hitting home runs and focus on hitting singles. When the pressure’s off, the highlights will come on their own.
Alex Poythress: Keep having fun
Remember when it was news when Alex Poythress smiled? Seriously, I remember writing about because it rarely happened his first few years in Lexington. Last Saturday, you couldn’t stop Alex from smiling. Against Louisville, Alex had more fun than any player on the court and it showed in his performance. Alex was aggressive, assertive, and looked every bit the senior leader we need him to be this season. Just keep it up, Alex.
Big Blue Nation: Patience
Look, after last season’s brush with perfection, it was hard to come back to Earth. An early season romp over Duke certainly didn’t temper expectations, so when Kentucky lost to UCLA and Ohio State, it was pretty jarring. Kentucky’s win over Louisville was great, but the second half showed us there are plenty of areas in which this team must improve if it wants to make a run in March. In 2016, let’s be patient and trust that Cal’s got this. This virtue should especially extend to next year’s recruiting class, which is already being touted by some to be the best in college basketball history. It’s easy to fall into the hype, but the 2013-2014 season taught us it’s much wiser to be patient.
Mark Stoops: No Drama
This resolution could extend to the entire UK Football team, really. It was a rough season for Stoops and company, but with the new year comes a blank slate. In 2016, it’s time to put the locker room drama and disorganization to rest and get about the business of winning football games. Stoops having his old friend Eddie Gran running the offense will hopefully help repair the disconnect on the sidelines.
Drew Barker: Lead
Barker’s got the keys to the Kentucky offense right now. After making some questionable decisions off the field to start the year, Drew finally got back on track and eventually took over as UK’s starting quarterback. The season didn’t turn out how anyone wanted, but moving forward, we can only hope for continued maturity and leadership on and off the field for Drew. This is his time; what he does with it is totally up to him.
Entire UK Football team: Less social media
Spending less time on phones and social media is a popular resolution for 2016, and the football team should definitely give it a try. Since the season ended, players have been voicing their displeasure over various issues on Twitter via emojis, an exhausting practice that makes them look more like a bunch of middle school girls than SEC football players. In 2016, put the phone down and just go to work, boys.
The Wildcat Mascot: Hit one halftime shot
Saturday was my first game at Rupp this season, which meant it was my first Ryan Lemond halftime show this season, so I finally got to see how bad the Wildcat mascot is at shooting. For those not familiar, Ryan brings a fan down to shoot for prizes and the Wildcat also shoots. This year, it’s a miracle if the Wildcat hits the backboard. No offense to him/her, I’m sure they’re great at one-arm pushups (even if they didn’t do that many during football season — hey-o! **rimshot**), but they need to get in the gym and work on that jumper.
John Calipari: …Eat more vegetables?
It’s hard to have a better year than Cal did in 2015 (Wisconsin game aside), so in my opinion, he just needs to keep on keeping on. If anything, I bet his daughters would say he needs to eat more vegetables to counter the giant slabs of meat he consumes on the reg. We all should probably eat more vegetable, so Cal gets the tamest of New Years Resolutions for 2016.