The Kentucky Wildcats entered the 2013-14 season with very, very high expectations. The team was ranked either near or at the top of most preseason polls, and the feeling around the Bluegrass State was that this was the team that could bring the school its ninth NCAA Championship.
John Calipari had assembled what some were calling the greatest recruiting class of all-time, one that would supplant the Fab Five of the Michigan Wolverines. This Kentucky group included guard play (Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, James Young), an athletic forward (Julius Randle), and two big men (Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee). The class seemed to have it all.
The only thing that was missing was the ability of Calipari to turn this group of talented individuals into a talented team. Despite Calipari’s efforts, that still hasn’t happened.
Kentucky has shown flashes of it at times; the Wildcats’ win on the road against the Missouri Tigers was an outstanding effort. Even in Saturday’s blowout loss to the Florida Gators, Kentucky put together a 15-0 run to cut Florida’s lead to six, before the Gators put the ‘Cats away.
That has been the most frustrating part for Calipari and the Big Blue Nation. The fans can see, in small doses, how good this team really could be. Playing hard all the time, getting back on defense, and communicating have not been the strong suits for this team.
At this point, it appears that this Kentucky team will be one of the most disappointing Wildcat teams of all-time. A team that talked about going 40-0 before the season will, barring a miracle, end up with at least 10 losses (UK is currently 22-9).
However, there could still be a silver lining for this team — they are headed to Atlanta for this week’s Southeastern Conference tournament. They will have the largest fanbase of any team there, as the Big Blue Nation turns the city into “Catlanta.” If the team can get on a roll and make a run in this even, and perhaps even win it, that would help ease the pain of fans from Pikeville to Paducah.
However, if it doesn’t happen this week, then maybe the ‘Cats can string together three wins in the NCAA tournament to make an Elite Eight appearance. Most Kentucky fans would settle for that right now.
There’s still time for this Kentucky team to make its mark. Not much time, but time nonetheless.
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