The fall of Lexington
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Updated: Sunday, December 2, 2012 18:12
The defending college basketball national champions have lost two straight games to unranked teams, relegating them to an unimpressive 4-3 record early in the season.
I couldn’t be happier.
Maybe it’s because having one fewer powerhouse in the country increases the chances of Syracuse getting its second national championship, but I think everyone who isn’t from Lexington, Ky. should be pleased with these early-season results. Kentucky’s struggle is good for college basketball.
Don’t get me wrong; UK basketball is one of the all-time legendary programs, so when head coach John Calipari first brought the Wildcats back on the map, it was great for the game. But since then, what he has been doing with his teams is not.
It’s not his fault all these top recruits choose to go to Kentucky. I would try to do the same thing if I were him, but as a fan of the game, it’s not something I enjoy. As Cal says, the flaw is in the rules, and they need to be changed.
But because that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon, we’re going to have to deal with Kentucky dominating high school recruiting and producing a Miami Heat version of a college basketball team.
Not this year, though.
It’s early in the season, but I’m not afraid to say Kentucky has zero chance at winning a national title this year. Here’s why:
Freshman-forward-flattop-phenom Nerlens Noel is severely overrated and underdeveloped. The Anthony Davis comparisons are laughable. The hype Noel received for his defensive prowess and ability to protect the rim, so far, is well deserved.
Offensively, he looks clueless. Forget the stats – for anyone who has seen him go one on one in the post, it’s an abysmal sight. He has no moves with his back to the basket and he looks uncoordinated with the ball in his hand. Every time he attacks the basket, he attempts to dunk the ball, which isn’t working like it did in high school. There’s no finesse in his post game.
Second, there’s no point guard. Look at all of Calipari’s successful teams in years past. What is one thing they have in common? They all have dominant point guards (Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight).
Even last season, Marquis Teague was an above average point guard who controlled the game. This year, Calipari has zero trust in North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow and Coach Cal has attempted to mold freshman shooting guard Archie Goodwin into his man to run the point.
Simply put, it’s not working out. Goodwin clearly needs to be an off-ball guard. There’s only place in the world for a score-first point guard who tries to create his own shot every time he brings the ball up and sparingly gets his teammates involved: Oklahoma City, where the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook hogs the rock.
Inexperience will ultimately be the demise of this team. The John Wall team made it to the Elite Eight. When that squad left for the NBA, Brandon Knight and co. made it to the Final Four the following season. But then players stayed and gave last year’s team some much-needed experience in order to become national champions.
This team doesn’t have that. No one from last season’s team stayed and the freshmen struggles have been imminent thus far.
Unfortunately, the balance of college basketball this season may be short-lived. If the youngsters on this year’s team continue to underperform, their draft stock may drop enough for them to want to come back for their sophomore year to redeem this season.
Oh yeah, and Kentucky has already signed three of the top six recruits in the 2013 class. So enjoy the Wildcats’ struggles this year while you can (I know I will), because their dynasty is still brewing.