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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: There is Always One Guy……

(photo courtesy of zimbio)

During the John Calipari era, fans come into the season thinking the roster is stacked with talent.  And it has been proven that fans were at least somewhat correct in 4 of the 5 years.  And hell, even in the NIT year, UK had 2 first round draft picks in the starting lineup.  There is always going to be enough talent on roster to be very competitive on a national championship scale.  But as fans tend to do, we also think that every player on roster can be a major contributor, especially when they are incoming freshman.  Calipari has created an atmosphere where freshman are EXPECTED to be able to play right away.  But in 4 of 5 years that Cal has been here, the depth is not always as it seems.  I think people forget there are only 200 minutes each game for players to play.  When you have star players like Brandon Knight or Julius Randle, those guys will gobble up many of those.  So guys are only going to naturally see a dip in production from what fans may think.  For instance:

2009-10: Daniel Orton
Stats: 38 games, 13.2 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG

-Orton came into Kentucky as a 5-star center out of Oklahoma.  He was Billy Gillispie’s best recruit and Calipari was able to hang on to him despite also picking up Demarcus Cousins.  I think most people thought Cousins and Orton would be a 1-2 punch in the post for UK to play alongside Patrick Patterson.  Instead, Cousins proved to have the much better all around game and clearly deserved the larger chunk of minutes.  Despite the fact that Orton played in all 38 games, he never provided much of an impact on the game, especially on the offensive end of the floor.  Also some incidents late in the year, including in the SEC Tournament, soured his 1 year in Lexington.

2010-11: Stacey Poole
Stats: 16 games, 2.8 MPG, 0.2 PPG

-Poole was the least heralded of the freshman class that came in that year but he still was a Top 50 player who was expected to be a regular in the rotation.  As it turned out, he probably was the least successful Calipari recruit in the past 5 years.  Unlike some other guys on this list who improved or ended up in the NBA, Poole transferred at the beginning of his sophomore year to Georgia Tech.

2011-12: Nobody

-I guess you could argue Jon Hood in this spot, but it really was just bad luck as Hood tore his ACL before the season.  But I am just guessing here, after playing 33 games in his sophomore year, I am sure many people would have thought Hood would have been a factor during that national title year.  I tend to think he wouldn’t have been, but I guess we’ll never know.

2012-13: Ryan Harrow
Stats: 29 games, 27.1 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 2.8 APG

-Harrow is a bit unique on this list because despite not playing well that year, he still saw a ton of minutes.  But it is clear that Harrow vastly underperformed where many fans thought he would during the preseason.  While Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress were inconsistent and frsutrating at times, they also showed flashes of greatness and stuffed the stat sheet.  Harrow never really got it going.

2013-14: Marcus Lee
Stats: 25 games, 6.2 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG

-Lee somewhat saved his season with a couple impressive performance in the NCAA Tournament, but overall, he was a non-factor last season.  Now Lee was likely hampered a bit by an illness early in the season that affected his stamina, but he never really seemed to get into the regular rotation until WCS went down with injury.  Lee’s stats are pretty incredible because he scored 27 of his 59 points in just 2 games, despite playing in 25 overall.  But his March performances leave fans quite excited what Lee will bring in 2014-15.

Many fans are clamoring about the UK roster for next season believing that UK could go as far as 10 deep.  That doesn’t even include Derek Willis or Dominque Hawkins.  But Calipari has never played anywhere close to a 10-man rotation since he has been at Kentucky and has openly stated that he needs 7 or 8 guys to compete.  So, how confident are you that Kentucky will see success out of all the returning players and incoming freshman?  Or is there a guy or two that you think might struggle to find the floor as much as other fans might think?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

17 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: There is Always One Guy……

  1. JHK
    9:17 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    There’s like 257 5-star players on this team. Obviously at least one of them will be a non factor, if only because he won’t get to play.

  2. wkylawcat
    9:18 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Agree he won’t play more than 8 regularly although it won’t be the same 8 all the time until late in the year. Some of these freshmen are not going to play. I know Booker plays a position that is lacking in depth more than some other positions, but, to me, it’s a matter of whether Ulis is playing much or not. If Ulis is playing more, then I think Aaron is sliding down to the 3 and Booker isn’t getting minutes. If Booker is picking up minutes, then I think Ulis is not. The Harrisons are gonna play. Also, that’s a deep frontcourt and I haven’t been as impressed with KAT as some who have posted they think he’ll lead the team in scoring (I have seen that). He’s going to be hard-pressed to get on the floor with Dakari and WCS. Don’t say he can play the 4 with them in the middle and open it up, because he can’t guard a college 4. He could be on the outside looking in with this team. Just my opinion.

    • Casper
      9:31 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

      We need one or two freshmen to start for this team to be better than last year.

  3. Bigger Blue
    9:35 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, you just proved about UK fans, what I said about state employees when I worked in Frankfort… these people aren’t happy unless they are miserable!

    Jeezle Pete… the same people complaining about this must be the same ones who complained that we didn’t have enough talent when Tubby was here… now we have too much… maybe after they run Calipari off, we will find a coach that can get it right! (sarcasm folks!)

    • Block Party
      12:44 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Nowhere here does BTI say UK fans are complaining about too much talent – you sound like Michael Wilbon trying to make something out of nothing. The point here is that, almost every year, there’s a guy who doesn’t quite play up to his advanced billing, either due to lack of PT availability or just general underperformance. I for one am completely ecstatic about where Cal has our program and hope he retires here (in like 15 years).

  4. bung
    9:41 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I just hope Willis, Lee, and Hawk get a fair chance to perform…hope we run the fast break, pick up the scoring and don’t lose 23 games the next 2 years…

    • JHK
      9:44 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

      If Hawkins needs to play, it will mean trouble for UK.

  5. jimlowe7
    9:53 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Cal has already said in several interviews that he plans to TRY to play “rotations” since he has so much depth PLUS several players who can play MORE THAN ONE position. His comment referred to that’s the way they play in the NBA, but he also knows that’s the way these guys played in the major All-Star games (McD, Jordan-B, etc). We should know how that works (and IF he will really do it) on the Caribbean trip. I still believe he will use his “traditional” 7-8 guys in the second halves of games against MAJOR opponents and in the NCAA’s, but if the starters only avg 27 min during the season instead of the 32 they did last year they could either be more fresh at the end of games or press a lot.

  6. Larry The BTB
    10:27 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I think Lee would have started on most teams across the country last season. Next year, I can see his role being virtually the same. Losing Randle on the front line, but bringing in Trye Lyles and Karl Towns. The SH blog has a real nice look at next season:

  7. Fred
    10:30 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    For the most part, I do agree Orton did not perform quite as expected… But when he was in the game, teams knew not to mess with him. He certainly had a presence, and I was super pumped to have him coming off the bench for 10 minutes a game.

  8. rahrah
    10:31 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    We will have a deep rotation IF the starters and first two off the bench can get a nice lead and keep it. Coach Cal wasn’t able to do much substituting last season because he was trying to get the main guys playing well. We didn’t have a lot of big leads and we didn’t hang on to the ones we had. I’m thinking this season with all the experience will be different since he won’t be teaching fundamentals nearly so much. Hoping anyway. Can’t wait!

  9. the ghost of Bill Hicks
    10:39 am May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Orton’s defining moment? Dropping Mother Eff’er on live TV.

  10. RexRox
    12:52 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Please don’t include Marcus Lee in with these other underachievers. He is a super young man who is going to make some big noise before he is finished (unlike the others on this list).

  11. Capt Jack
    3:13 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Karl Towns will not play much..maybe 8-10 minutes a game, averaging 3-4 points. He is not very strong yet and lacks the elite quickness like Noel, Davis, WCS (that made them defensive stalwarts). Nor is he a low post warrior like Johnson. Although I don’t think Lyles is better overall than Towns, Trey will play more because he is crafty around the rim and somewhat of a do-it-all power forward.

  12. ukfan
    3:21 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    You should’ve put Wiltjer down for 2011-2012

  13. Sam Jones
    5:13 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Lee can definitely carve out a spot for himself even on this loaded roster. It starts with defense. If he can play good positional defense, give us a few blocks, rebound, and chip in some points cleaning up around the rim, then I don’t see how you can keep him out of the rotation.