Kentucky Wildcats: 5 Burning Questions Heading Into 2013-14
Looking at the State of Kentucky Heading Into 2013-14
Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Kentucky Wildcats find themselves in the familiar position of integrating a horde of talented freshman to become a cohesive unit on the floor. This strategy worked exceptionally over the first three years of coach John Calipari's reign, as the team progressed from making the Elite Eight to Final Four and finally a National Championship victory in 2012. In each season, the team looked to buy into the message that Calipari was pushing, in turn both winning a massive amount of games and sending a horde of players to the NBA.
But during the 2012-13 season, this strategy of highly touted youngsters working together seemed to drive off the road a bit, as a lack of depth (the team only had eight scholarship players) and the injury of star center Nerlens Noel created a bit of dysfunction within the team. The end result of this was a 21-12 record and a disappointing invitation to the NIT, where both the players and coaches showed no interest during a first round loss to Robert Morris.
This poor season ultimately did not have any implications on either recruiting or the public's belief to come back stronger than ever for the 2013-14 season, as the team picked up six five-star recruits and received the No. 1 ranking in the nation heading into the year. Even coach Calipari is buying into the hype the media is throwing about, recently claiming that at least seven guys on the team will score at least 25 points in one game, and that they have the potential to be the best team he has ever coached.
Of course, this is high praise from a coach that has been coaching great college basketball teams for over 20 years, but it does not mean there will not be any bumps along the road. In fact, these expectations and unfamiliar faces will result in a number of questions heading into the season. With this in mind, we have singled out the five burning questions for Kentucky heading into the 2013-14 season.
5.What Will They Do When Dakari Johnson Sits?
While Kentucky will have a plethora of talent throughout their roster, the position of center will be rather barren. Incoming five star freshman Dakari Johnson is the only center listed on the roster, with sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein the only other player on the team even capable of playing the position. Last season, Cauley-Stein showed little ability to handle playing center at a high level, as he started after Nerlens Noel went down to a torn ACL last season, and the team immediately went down hill. With this in mind, it will likely stand to reason that any legitimate National Championship hopes will likely rely on Johnson being able to play heavy minutes and stay healthy.
4.Who Will Be the More Impressive Harrison Brother?
Incoming guards Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison both rank in the top 10 of incoming freshman throughout the nation, and have been slated to start at point guard and shooting guard in the coming season. Surely, the two will have a level of continuity that the rest of the roster will not have, which will play a huge role as the adjust to the college basketball scene. It will also likely lead to a huge level of competition between the two siblings, who will likely look to out perform each other throughout the year. The level of play of these two will have a huge impact on the success of Kentucky in the upcoming season and provide for an intriguing story line.
3.Can John Calipari Convince This Group to Play Together?
This is the question that faces John Calipari with every passing season, but this does not make it any less relevant. Talent will only get any team so far, which was exemplified perfectly by Kentucky's inability to even get to the NCAA Tournament last season. Whether or not the team's incoming class is willing to buy into Calipari's systems will ultimately determine what the team achieves in 2013-14.
2.Will a Weak Schedule Come Back to Bite Kentucky?
When looking at Kentucky's schedule for the upcoming season, it immediately sticks out that only six of the team's 31 games come against teams that are currently ranked. While five of these games come against teams ranked top 12 nationally -- Michigan State, Louisville, UNC and Florida -- it is obvious that this roster will not be consistently tested against very high level of competition during the season. On one hand, it could be argued that this will be helpful in getting an unfamiliar roster to gel and gain confidence, but it could also become worrisome when it comes to having to fight through the NCAA Tournament. Which one of these two options turns out to be most truthful will likely not rear its head until the end of the season.
1.Is a 40-0 Record Possible?
John Calipari has clearly stated that he wants to secure a perfect 40-0 record at some point in his career, and that he feels this group could be the one to do it. With a previously stated weak schedule facing the team in 2013-14, it is certainly possible that a perfect regular season could be in the realm of possibilities. If this did happen, there would be loads of pressure on the team, which would make each and every win that much more difficult to attain. This goal is not impossible, but do not hedge your bets on it occurring.