A few weeks ago, as Kentucky was sporting an 0-3 record against the 3 ranked opponents it had played, the common line being thrown around was that the pre-season expectations were way too high for this team. How could they be anything but disappointing with such lofty expectations? A few weeks have passed, and Kentucky has picked up a quality win against Louisville, while taking positive steps in a 2-0 SEC start. The story line is changing and evolving as the critical eyes watching Kentucky game in and game out are seeing progress. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports believes some of the previous problems are working themselves out. At times though, Parrish still sees characteristics of a young team, including Aaron Harrison’s decision (or non-decision, rather) at the very end of the game when he couldn’t decide whether to lay the ball up to extend the lead or kick it back out to run the clock out.
“So, obviously, these young Kentucky Wildcats are still very much a work in progress. Regardless, let the record show that the nation’s preseason top-ranked team is on a four-game winning streak that’s taken them from 8-3 to 12-3, and the issues they had in November and December seem to be diminishing with every 40 minutes of basketball.”
Parrish says that although this team isn’t “great” right now, and probably wouldn’t be favored to win a 68 game tournament right now… things are pointing in the right direction.
“But Calipari’s roster of McDonald’s All-Americans is undeniably pointed in the correct direction, and the best way I can explain why is to revisit that silly lob in the final seconds of Saturday’s 71-62 victory over Vanderbilt here at Memorial Gym. Again, the lob was equal parts senseless and ridiculous; don’t ever forget that. But the lob was also an anomaly because UK’s number of moments laced with inexperience– Calipari calls them “AAU plays”– are decreasing on the regular. So projecting greatness for the Wildcats suddenly doesn’t seem as silly as it did when they started the season by losing three of their first 11.”
Not only are guys like Parrish starting to re-write the script on this Kentucky team, but Calipari himself is finding more and more to be positive about. Although he knows his team isn’t there yet, his post-game comments showcased a sense that they are, for now at least, on the right track and improving more than they are taking steps backwards. For a young team loaded with talent, that’s exactly where you would hope to find them at the start of conference play.