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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Was this 3-year stretch good or bad? (HINT: It was still good)

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

We are in a weird place in the John Calipari era right now because where you view the program is all on how you approach it.  If you view the program now compared to where it was from 2010-15, you would have to say the program is in “decline”.  The Cats haven’t gone to the Final Four in 3 years, the longest stretch in the Calipari tenure.  They didn’t win the SEC title this year and finished 4 games out of first.  They just suffered a very disappointing Sweet 16 loss to a far inferior team.  And the overall talent of this year’s team probably didn’t stack up to teams in the past.

On the other hand, if you simply compare UK to the rest of the country or the era before Calipari arrived, things are still thriving.  UK has won 4 straight SEC Tournament titles, won games in the NCAA Tournament every year since 2014, will send a couple more guys into the NBA this summer, and the recruiting class coming in is Top 5 in the country.  If you look at it in that way, you’ve got to be very happy with the program right now.

A little breakdown of the previous 3 years:

2016: 27-9, 13-5 SEC (SEC Co-Champs, SEC Tournament Champs, 2nd Round NCAA)
2017: 32-6, 16-2 SEC (SEC Champs, SEC Tournament Champs, Elite 8)
2018: 26-11, 10-8 SEC (SEC Tournament Champs, Sweet 16)

OVERALL: 85-26, 39-15 SEC (2 SEC Regular Season Titles, 3 SEC Tournament Titles, 6-3 NCAA Record)

Even if you consider this a “down” time for the Calipari program, the Cats have still won 75% of their games, 3 SEC Tournament titles, made the 2nd weekend of the tournament 2 out of 3 years, and are still the class of the SEC consistently.  They are poised to be in the Top 10 next season as well.  I would say that appears to be a program that doing just fine.

I get the sense there is some concern right now about how things are going.  It’s kind of funny because it is somewhat like the concern people had during the Tubby era.  The teams were excellent, the players were loved by the fans, and the wins rolled in.  But the one thing missing was the Final Fours.  Tubby just couldn’t get over that hump after 1998 and get back to the Final Four.  And in the last 3 years, Calipari teams have fallen short in March.

Personally, I am content with what the last 3 years have been for UK basketball.  Calipari gave us an unrealistic view of what his program could be with his run from 2010-15.  That was the anomaly, not the norm.  The norm is what we’ve seen for the last 3 years.  Freshman teams that struggle, hope they bring it together at the end, and take your chances in the tournament.  In years past, like 2011 and 2014, it worked out all the way to the Final Four.  The past 3 years, it just hasn’t worked out that way.  Certainly, if this kind of season we just experienced in 2018 keeps happening moving forward, that will grow old.  But as it stands right now, this program is still one of the strongest in the country.  I’m not sure we are to the point to question whether this is working or not.  Look at that overall stats of the past 3 years above.  Three years that many are calling “down” years simply because we didn’t make the Final Four.  Very few programs can stack up to those numbers.  Have some perspective and realize this is still one of the golden eras of UK basketball.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

18 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Was this 3-year stretch good or bad? (HINT: It was still good)

  1. BobKYCats
    10:10 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    One of the reasons I love this program, and also a reason why other fan bases think we’re absolutely insane, is because, this year, we beat our archrivals by 30 points, got a great road win over a top-ten West Virginia team, won the SEC Tournament (again), got to the Sweet 16, won 26 games, and the season was “disappointing”.

    I get it, I wish we had gotten those wins over Florida and Tennessee at Rupp, got that win over South Carolina on the road, get a three seed possibly and maybe talking about Final Four opponents right now, but if the season we just went through is a down year? I’ll take that and look for bigger things next year.

    I’ve been blessed in my 35 years to see us hang four Final Four banners, two Runner Up banners, and three Championship banners. How many other programs can say that? It’s pretty damn good.

    And also, Duke lost.

  2. Duff86
    10:24 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    Duke lost, life is great!

  3. Jiminy Crickets
    10:25 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    Just saying, if we continue winning 75% of our games, Kansas will pass us as the winningest program in about 4 years

    • catsarerunnin
      11:00 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

      Omg! Will the earth stop spinning on its axis and my face melt off??? Should I build a bunker??)

  4. DG
    10:42 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    “Help I am trying to find the Cal underachieved articles on this site”

  5. Tedmo
    10:44 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    Also, to put things in perspective, for all the talk about Duke being the class of college basketball right now, putting us to shame, etc., they have also missed out on the Final Four the past three years, and the last time we faced them, we came out on top. They might be beating us on the recruiting trail currently, but that could certainly swing the other way. Already looking forward to our early-season match-up with them next year, when UK should have some more experience to go along with some quality freshmen.

    • catsarerunnin
      11:02 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

      That makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately the moron minority here will NOT agree.

  6. They are Freshmen
    11:06 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    I wish that the measure of success for UK basketball didn’t include how many players we send to the NBA. Maybe it should include how many players we have one the dean’s list.

    • BigBlueMeade
      11:51 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

      Our APR score is one of the best in the nation and second best of all tourney teams this year. Our team does well academically and has done well under Cal almost every year.

    • catsarerunnin
      12:41 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

      Well only future successful people made the “dean’s” list…

  7. 96ChampionBestTeamEver
    11:21 am March 26, 2018 Permalink

    The only thing I’m a little uneasy about is whether Cal will be able to recruit at the same level as he did. The last three years were specifically due to missing out on some recruits. Don’t get me wrong, we have had lots of talent. But for his system to work like we all want it to, including Cal, he has to get the cream of the crop. Whether the last three years is a trend or a blip on the screen we won’t know until we look back.

  8. lecantrell
    12:38 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    Need to focus on winning,titles, and hanging banners instead of being a junior NBA system!

    • J-Dub421
      1:38 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

      If you want to win titles and hang banners, you need NBA level talent.

  9. Biglaw Dawgin'
    2:18 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    2018 I thought we overachieved for the most part. Only thing disappointing was that we had our worst game (in the last 10 games) against KSU. Otherwise, we’d be sitting here talking about the second most overachieving team at UK ever (behind 2014).
    2017 definitely wasn’t disappointing. Great regular season, #2 seed in the tourney, lost on a buzzer-beater to #1 UNC in the Elite 8? Malik Monk, Bam, and Fox? That was an exciting team.
    2016 overachieved during the regular season with that roster. Tourney loss sucked.

  10. trumpetguy
    2:27 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure”! Here we go, a baseball player is pretty hot if he goes 6 for 8 in a DH. BUT he was 0 for for 22 in the previous five games. Is he a hot hitter, or need a few days off because because he is mired in a 6 for 30 slump? Do a little homework and look at 2018 UK hoops stats and see if they look like winning basketball. What constitutes a successful year is in the eye of the beholder. Year long top 20 ranking, Sweet 16, or an elite 8 the benchmark? How about Va.? Overall #1 seed but lost opening game to a #16. They have a successful year? Mentioned this info about 2-3 weeks into the season, and indeed it became reality for the entire season. Opponents MADE MORE 3s than UK, but shot lower %. Add to that, UK had MORE turnovers than their opponents, and those two things combined are not conducive to lengthy winning streaks. Tremendous athletes, but not necessarily good basketball skills, make good defensive players on a football team. Unless the object of the game changes from putting the ball in the basket, then more emphasis on ball handling/passing/shooting skills will need to be implemented on the recruiting front. Some say shooting can be taught…..ask Charlotte how MKG is coming along. #2 selection in NBA draft is about where he was at UK. UK, or anybody else, can’t get smoked from 3 point line, PLUS have more turnovers than the opposition, and expect to make March noise.

  11. bluecrowe
    3:02 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    I think Cal just has to be more honest with the kids, their families and their “uncles”. If they are going to play in Lithuania after one season at UK and this is going to happen over and over again added to losing 2 to 4 players to the NBA whether they are ready or not, then we need to do something else. Perhaps Cal really prefers having an entirely new team every year, but if not then he needs to be talking differently to these kids. If nothing else changes then he needs to bring in a free throw shooting specialist who works with each kid an hour a week for the entire year.

    If they are going to be here no longer than 5 months and we are starting over every year, losing the early non conference games against Duke, Kansas and UCLA, then to fall in the rankings and hear Cal say, “this is what happens with young kids” then miraculously have them put it together 48 hours before the SEC tournament and play very well only to be beat by either inferior teams or to the other national powers in the NCAA because of freshmen mistakes and missed FTs as well as NOT PUSHING THE BALL against an NIT team then what are we doing here? I care about the kids too, but it would be nice if we were collecting some more hardware here.

  12. Ukcatzfan2
    4:01 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    UK was 26 and 11 !!!!!!!! 11 losses with their only wins against SEEDS higher or the same VS TENN and WVIR
    they lost all other games against inferior teams
    how many losses next year with the recruits coming in 15 , and if wiseman goes to MEMPHIS
    there is only one other 2019 recruit in the top 20 that li st uk CAL has lost his MOJO for recruiting
    if there is no turn around we maybe going back to the ORLANDO years

  13. Rabbi Li
    5:18 pm March 26, 2018 Permalink

    It’s very simple…

    With Cal you give him time. He’s earned it (and was qualified to coach here).
    • He recruits the top players
    • He’s on top of the narrative
    • His system is relevant & proven

    With Tubby you cut the cord. He didn’t earn seat. He was never qualified for the position. The long drawn out bungle was created by Mitch Barnhart, not Tubby.
    • Ten loss Tubby… Mark Coury, Jared Carter, Michael Porter, A.J. Stewart, Ramon Harris, Rekalin Sims, Sheray Thomas, Adam Williams, Preston LeMaster, Shagari Alleyne, Josh Carrier, Brandon Stockton, Bernard Cote, Matt Heissenbuttel

    All the hate toward Tubby is simply misdirected anger towards Mitch. For if Mitch didn’t keep stringing it along no one would have a bad thing to say about Tubby. He came, he tried and he failed, move along.