The 2013-14 season is quickly approaching, and Big Blue Nation holds its collective breath. John Calipari’s Kentucky team will go to war this year relying only on what a few “experts” are calling “the greatest recruiting class ever assembled,” a couple of sophomores, and a few older guys. Is this a recipe for success? We shall see. But probably not. Unfortunately for Kentucky, only one team has ever won the national championship using this formula, and this happened way back in 2012. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*More Than a Memory: A few days ago, John Calipari posted a picture of the 2013-14 UK team. It featured 6 freshmen who were McDonald’s All Americans, another freshman who was Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky, a couple of talented sophomores projected to be lottery picks, a senior who has played with 17 NBA draft picks, and several walk-ons. All told, there were 16 players in the photo. It was a worrisome sight for all of Big Blue Nation. It called to mind the Billy Gillispie era, when the much maligned Texan fielded a team full of walk-ons, mid-major talent, and only a few eventual professionals. It was initially thought that Calipari would try to distance himself from Gillispie, but as evidenced by the picture that was taken, this is apparently not the case at all. The parallels between Gillispie’s 2009 team, for example, and Calipari’s current team are striking. They both featured a home-grown freshman who was voted Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky (Darius Miller and Dominique Hawkins), a newcomer from California (Kevin Galloway and Marcus Lee) and players who were teammates in high school (Josh Harrelson/Mark Halsell and Andrew Harrison/Aaron Harrison). And if that weren’t eerie enough, Billy Gillispie is from Texas. Just like Julius Randle. Whoa. On the bright side, at least UK fans have an NIT game in Memorial Coliseum to look forward to.
*Shameless: Over the past few months, the Kentucky football coaching staff has created an internet sensation by tweeting out “Yahtzee!” whenever they secure a verbal commitment. Though he hasn’t addressed this (except when he said he really liked it), this has to be infuriating for John Calipari. Effective marketing has long been seen as his specialty, and to now have a cohort who’s playing this same game is not what he wants, to be sure. Don’t be surprised to see Calipari eventually come up with his own catchphrase, to be utilized the next time he lands a top 10 player. For example, “Monopoly!” And for anyone who thinks the ingenuity displayed by the football staff isn’t hindering the basketball team’s recruiting efforts, consider: Who has landed more recruits over the last few months? “Bingo!”
*Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House: This upcoming season, it appears that John Calipari and UK will rely heavily on Andrew and Aaron Harrison, arguably the most highly touted freshmen teammate twins in the history of college basketball. This does not bode well for Kentucky. What if one of them has a bad game? Will this adversely impact the other one? (Yes.) Do they have that ESP thing, where they feel each other’s pain? (Yes.) What if Calipari yells at Aaron? Will Andrew feel the effects of this? (Yes.) And at the end of the season, what if Andrew wants to leave for the NBA? Does this mean that Aaron will tag along with him? (Yes.) All in all, this is quite a quandary for the Cats. I bet if John Calipari had his way, there would only be one of them.
* On this date: On this date in 1908, Kentucky fielded an all white roster.