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Mike DeCourcy brings us back down to Earth this a.m.

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

With five of the big seven returning from last season’s NCAA runner-up squad, plus the addition of four Mickey D’s All-Americans, it’s easy to get caught up in the pre-summer hype of the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats. I’m guilty. You’re guilty. We’re all guilty.

But Mike DeCourcy kept it real this morning in The Sporting News, reminding us that last year’s team also had enormous expectations and they were far from dominant. That team was a couple of points away from losing in the Round of 32, then again in the Sweet 16, and the Elite Eight, and the Final Four.

Yes, next year’s team has even more depth, but as DeCourcy writes, depth only goes so far:

With five players returning who averaged double-figure minutes — plus reserves Marcus Lee and Hawkins, who produced important moments in the tournament — Calipari will have his most experienced Kentucky team. It certainly will be his deepest. To call this his most talented, though, is to ignore the absence of someone who stands out immediately as a game-changer. Barring extraordinary development from one of the returning Wildcats, there might not be anyone who projects as a first-team All-American.

Depth can have value, as UK learned when Lee filled in for injured Willie Cauley-Stein from the Sweet 16 into the Final Four. It also has the potential to cause chemistry issues, as was the case with North Carolina in 1993-94. This past year’s Wildcats lost to a team that used an eight-man rotation. That’s most often how it goes. It was more important for UConn to have a transcendent player on its side.

With plenty of stats to back up his hesitant take on next year’s Cats, DeCourcy does a good job of playing devil’s advocate this morning.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to building my 2015 National Championship shrine in my guest room.

If you expect Kentucky to breeze to the 2015 title, you’re repeating 2014’s mistake

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

52 Comments for Mike DeCourcy brings us back down to Earth this a.m.



  1. Axe Cop
    10:39 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Hope no one hates on Mike. He’s in our corner 99% of the time.



  2. KMS35
    10:41 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    He has a point, but the variable is that those returning players have been to a national championship game. It’s hardly a comparison to last year when UK started 5 freshman for the majority of the season.



    • lonnieb
      11:47 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      BINGO……important players returning who have been here…..ie jones, lamb, miller 2012



  3. Musehobo
    10:42 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    These are fair points. I think most of us realize this. But I would guess we believe that many of our returning players grew up a lot in the tourney. We don’t plan on having the same kind of season with both twins finally playing up to their hype at the end of the season. I’m not one to say we will “breeze through” next year. But I think our future is bright.



  4. Dan
    10:42 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    In March teams like Wichita are great b/c of the veterans and team concept. We have veterans and a stacked team, but NOW you need a superstar. These guys j/ make points that go along with their agendas.



    • Azubuike's Bicep
      10:54 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      And what exactly is DeCourcy’s agenda? He is as pro-UK a journalist as you’ll find. God forbid someone add a little perspective.



    • el hombre juan
      11:15 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Ummm to make money?



  5. GoBlue!
    10:45 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    “Barring extraordinary development from one of the returning Wildcats,”

    Someone will step up. That’s usually how it goes. Without Julius, there will be another star. Remember, on Feb. 1, 2012, no one was talking about Anthony Davis being national player of the year, and he ended up being the consensus pick.



  6. RUPPS_rhetoric
    10:45 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I hope our fanbase lays off him on twitter. He’s one of the few that operates without an agenda. He has very valid points, and we should all temper our expectations and just enjoy the ride.



  7. Will
    10:46 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Well Wichita St. Was also good because Cleanthony Early is a STUD! Think about te past few national champions.. They’ve all had a transcendent dominant player who can take over games on the roster.. Napier, Russ Smith, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, etc..



    • el hombre juan
      11:22 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Russ smith lol. Harrison, Harrison, Lyles, Towns…no, there is no one on this team that is capable of changing the outcome of a game. This team is stack with guys who can knock down shots, dominate the paint, and players who would be starting on most teams that do a great job of playing a specific role. Im just not seeing the validity of his argument. We have proven talent and some great incoming freshman. The sky is the limit with this team don’t see what all the fuss is about. Only question is at small forward. Other than that, well…yeah.



    • raccoon
      12:11 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      One of those guys is not like the others. I’ll give you a hint, it’s Russ Smith.

      And while none of our guys project as first-team All-American, I’d be surprised if at least a couple don’t end up second or third team. And we will fill out the All-SEC team.

      People get caught up on the winning “formula.” Need a “transcendent” player. Need a dominant big man, need a quarterback at PG. You need a team that can win games. That is what you need. It is done a lot of different ways, and there are certain common features, but there isn’t some single, identifiable thing that you need.

      And once again, Russ Smith? Haha.



    • Will
      12:49 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Russ smith has been one of the best scorers in basketball the last two years. He averaged 18.7 ppg on a national championship team. He’s a guy that if your offense is struggling and you need a basket.. He can go get it by himself… IMO.. UK doesn’t have that right now.. Do they need it to win the ship? Maybe, maybe not.. Could someone on this team grow into that? Also possible.



  8. JHK
    10:47 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I believe Aaron Harrison will be this team’s star.

    He never really shot well last season. There’s a decent chance the tournament gave him enough confidence to be a good shooter all season long. If the 3 falls, he is a big time scorer.

    Plus, UK won’t need a guy to score 20 a game. They didn’t either last season. They will just need him to hit the shots when UK can’t buy a basket or when the game gets close. That’s what he does best.



  9. eric
    10:47 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Isn’t this hyped up, steroided up culture of prognostication and speculation fun?!??! It would be totally weird to just let things play out, wouldn’t it.

    Who could have guessed that the ’13/’14 cats would have turned it on in the tourney? I thought they were done/probably lose to K-State in the first round. But they flipped the switch and surprised everyone.

    No one knows what the hell is going to happen, do they?

    Forty and Oh, baby.

    Hype it up!!!!



  10. Bobby
    10:48 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    After seeing the tattoo article it has confirmed one belief of mine. All tattoo shops should be shut down and the owners arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. This is a blight on our society and is ruining lives.



    • el hombre juan
      11:25 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      That’s how it was not too long ago. We should probably segregate blacks and stop letting women vote too.



  11. bosshog
    10:50 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    No one here with any sense is counting chickens before they hatch. But we should feel good about next year because we have, ironically, what matters most: experience. Shabazz Napier won a championship before this year, he was very experienced, and came ready to play. However, I don’t think you could call him a “transcendent” player. He was a more experienced and knew exactly what he needed to do. And who among next year’s favorites will have more experience than us? We lost the title game because we missed lots of free throws, were missing our best defensive player and got a couple of influential bad calls. I get what Decourcy is saying, but no one took more crucial game-changing shots than Aaron Harrison….I’ll take that and our experience and depth against the field.



  12. Jeremy L. Scarbrough
    10:50 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    A better way to look at Kentucky’s run was that Kentucky’s balanced attack and balanced size beat four Championship-caliber teams on its way to a Championship game where it lost to the fifth Championship-caliber team. Stating that we almost lost in the rounds of 32, 16, 8 and 4 is the most ridiculous way to summarize some of the best basketball games of the tourney.



    • Moose
      10:56 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Yeah and also UConn won their first tourney game in OT, so close still cut it for them.



  13. roster spot
    10:50 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    maybe we can get Johnny Depp on the squad .. i heard he has experience with transcendence



  14. Valid point
    10:51 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    A friend made this same point. Who will be the go to guy since Randle left? I’m not sure you have to have that player but if not, even with a collection of NBA players, it will definitely need to be a team first concept.



  15. Moose
    10:55 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    “That team was a couple of points away from losing in the Round of 32, then again in the Sweet 16, and the Elite Eight, and the Final Four.” Yeah ok, but then Aaron Harrison stepped up and made shots that took us from losing those games to winning those games. And you’re saying he isn’t a game changer? Makes no sense.



    • Definition of game changer
      1:00 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      +1 but it could be different guys on different nights. Other teams don’t have that option. I’d rather have it.



  16. UK Fan
    10:56 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    All Bullsh1t. 40-0. No doubt. I’m getting 2015 National Champion shirts already made. Thinking about a tattoo also,



    • TrollSoHard
      10:58 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      #funnyfail



    • Dano
      11:01 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Shouldn’t you be lifting up Karens skirt instead of trolling?



  17. Casper
    10:59 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Towns for three!
    He will transcend as our stretch four.



  18. RICK
    10:59 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t care what this guy has to say. I hope we win the ntl chmp. every year and never expect us to go futher than the sweet 16, but do expect that most years.



  19. Duuuuuude
    11:07 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    All very good points indeed. I remember that North Carolina team well. They would line up 5 at a time and platoon in and out, yet they did not win the tourney.

    That said, I believe the core of the team figured it all out by seasons end and I really like our chances for #9.



  20. Michael F. Jox
    11:10 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I still can’t believe the dude called Shabazz a transcendent player and you guys think he knows what he’s talking about.



  21. John Calipari's Amazing One and Done Flying Circus
    11:21 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I am excited that we will be returning an experienced point guard in the John Calipari era. It’s a first and a factor that can’t be overlooked. Leadership at that position is crucial. This team will be big, strong and athletic. There won’t be many teams that can handle them. They should take home #9, but we all know what one bad game in the NCAA can do. I honestly look for them to go 39-1 or 38-2 and win the title. The slip up will likely occur on the road somewhere in the SEC.



  22. Cats
    11:39 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    This is a dumb argument. First of all, we have 9 McDonald’s AA’s. Second, how many national championship teams truly have “game changers”? (And by game changers I’m assuming he means future NBA all-stars) The only team I can think of in the past 5 years is UK with Davis



  23. UK Terry
    11:44 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Someone other than Aaron (Towns??) will have to step up to consistently make outside shots. I believe that opponents will pack the lane to limit Andrew drives and shade Aaron outside to force someone else to beat them.

    The talent on next year’s team is undeniable. Making the offense flow cohesively with rapid ball movement will be Cal’s challenge. If that clicks, the sky is the limit and a potential UK-Duke final will have the makings of an instant classic.



    • Mc
      12:07 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      Pack it in then you play Towns, Lyles, Booker, Aaron, and either Andrew, or Ulis.

      My prediction on Duke: Okafor gets in foul trouble early in the tournament and they lose.



  24. Rixter
    11:47 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Here’s the deal: next year’s team will pick up right where they left off this year: NCAA tournament tested. This year’s team picked up right where they left off last year: high school players.



  25. eric
    11:55 am April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Here’s MY deal. Stop f*****g trying to predict every god**** thing that goes on in sports 7 or 8 months before anything happens! And stop giving a sh*t about every douchbag sports writer’s opinion. Kentucky will be who we think they will be!! They will win a lot of games, lose a few, make it to the tourney and might win the title. And they might not win the title. Winning the title is pretty hard to do. This sh*t gets old.



    • SimmerDown
      12:01 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

      It’s off season, they have to post something to get hits. Sheesh.



  26. raccoon
    12:06 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Anyone have any idea when the non-conference schedule will come out? Last year I think it was early May, but of course Cal had more time in March/April last year.



  27. erics blood pressure
    12:15 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Calm down eric. If you dont like what you’re reading, don’t read it.



  28. jus sayin
    12:17 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t think ANYONE would have called Shabazz or Russ Smith transcendent player UNTIL they won. We have multiple guys who could be all Americans if they were allowed to amass stats on a lesser team.



  29. 2mites
    12:23 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    UConn won only because UK shot so poorly. End of story …. their defense did nothing to stop the Cats as they had open shots all night so give them the win due to shooting ineptness



  30. BiloxiGuy
    12:25 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Bring back the PRESS!!! 96′ style. It’s the only way to get the most out of all of this talent. UK would run through teams with it.



  31. 2mites
    12:26 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    The one thing UK will lack next year unless Booker comes thru is good 3 pt shooting, something to consider as the Cats will see zones all year long again.



  32. bung
    12:35 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    is he sayin’ if we continue to shoot poorly from the 1,2, and 3 positions, have low assists, won’t run the break, and have high turnovers and low steals we will prob lose 11 again?…if we learned to share and hustle and shoot better we might not lose but a couple and hang #9?…



  33. John Ellis
    12:48 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t count on the sun rising, but next year Cal won’t have to be teaching basic defensive stance and rotation deep into February, or his point guard on the idea of passing in March; they may not run through their games but it’s likely they will play far better during the regular season than they did this year. Julius is very talented but most of the problems – dead ball movement, shooting over three opponents, and panicking under pressure – were Julius problems. He would have overcome them if he came back, but won’t be problems next year.



  34. Will
    12:57 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Nba success and game changer in college can be two different things!!!!! Adam Morrison was a great college player.. A game changer.. But he was an nba bust. Christian Laetner also comes to mind.



  35. gottodoit
    1:41 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    It is possible that other schools with exceptional talent will develop chemistry, momentum, free throw proficiency and a good whistle to challenge us this year.

    We need to learn to pass the ball to each other, hit free throws, implement a zone defense, ignore press clippings and trust the coach. And in case I didn’t emphasize it enough – implement a zone defense.

    All the ‘Kentucky’s a shoo-in’ comments don’t merit a response, but I couldn’t help it.



  36. Kentucky Redneck
    4:04 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Mick Decorso dudnt’ know what hes taking bout. Cats by 25 in every game



  37. jeffrey
    4:46 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Except you cannot compare the two, when last year they have to LEARN THE SYSTEM. This next season, you have several guys who KNOWS the system.