I am a fan and have been since at least the 1978 team, maybe a bit longer. I had kind of being disappointed with the program the last few years. I could have written a blog or two about the come back of the program under Callipari, but really decided to hold off until the end of the season and see how things went. Besides, what more could I say that my friend and co-worker Larry Vaught typically does not already cover? But as I sit here watching the last few seconds of the what surely the end of the Wildcats run I thought I would give some of my thoughts…
First some comments about the game today. I think Coach Cal does a good job of coaching most of the time, but I feel like in this game he let way to me three-point shots be put up by the team today without seemingly interjecting or trying to change the plan. This was especially an issue given the dismal shooting from behind the arch in the last game. I am not sure what his thoughts were. Maybe he overestimated the young team and thought they would see that it on their own? But being such a young team maybe a nudge to push it inside would have been in order. A second major problem that has off and on be a thorn throughout the season – the seeming inability to connect with the goal from the charity stripe. Any player not shooting 75% or nearly so needs to be spending extra time in practice at the line. That being said, it was definitely nice to have Kentucky back in the tourney and making it to the elite eight while playing group of mostly freshman has to be impressive in anyone’s book.
A few comments about the season in general. As stated above, going this far was a wonderful change of pace compared to the last several years. I do think in all three losses this season it was youthfulness with a bit of lack of focus and at least a bit of the fault has to be Coach Cal’s. That being said, I would not fault too much. After all, how many coaches take over a program and win the season a competitive conference like the SEC, followed up with a conference tourney win, and a run to the elite eight.
Biggest question now is who will return next year. Speculation by a lot of people has been that Cousins, Wall, and Patterson were heading to the NBA. There was starting to be some rumors that several of the players may be headed that way too. Given that they did get ultimate collegiate accolade will they still be so quick to exit? Especially given that there has been teasing hints that may not be satisfied without it. It has especially been suggested about Wall at various times. One could hope that everyone would return from this team and honestly, with the exception of Patterson they all can do just that. Matter of fact, he still has a year of eligibility too. Ad the depth that such a returning team would have and just think about the possibility of where that team could go to.