Skip to content

CBT Exam Week Essays: How do you fix what ails Kentucky?

Dec 11, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

john-calipari AP

For college students and college basketball fans, Exam Week is the worst week on the schedule. For students, this week is the culmination of three months worth of procrastination, cliff notes and Wikipedia. For college basketball fans, it’s the lightest week of hoops action we will see all season.

With so very little going on this week in terms of action, the staff at College Basketball Talk is going back to school. Over the next five days, the CBT Staff will be responsible for answering an essay question in one of five different subjects.

Monday’s exam covered covered sociology. Tuesday is the psychology exam.

Kentucky is currently battling through the roughest year of the John Calipari era. In your opinion, what is the root problem for the Wildcats and how, if at all, can it be remedied in order for the team to make their second-straight Final Four?

By Dan Martin

It seems as though we go through this every year with John Calipari and Kentucky. There’s a young group of highly-talented freshmen, analysts cite the Wildcats’ lack of experience as the reason they won’t make a deep run in March, then we see how the season plays out.

One year after the “youth” argument was debunked, Calipari finds himself in the toughest stretch of his tenure in Lexington, on the outside of the Top 25, looking in, and with the most question marks of perhaps any Kentucky team he has had.

There are a number of reasons for UK’s less-than-optimal start, which we’ll explore here, but here is one that many are overlooking: context.

Kentucky is coming off a national championship run, supposedly the great triumph for Calipari, proving that he could once and for all assemble a team that defies convention and takes home a national title.

But you have to look at it in context.

That team, though young, did the most fundamentally important thing any team can do. The 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats played team defense and they played it well.

They had a historically good shotblocker in Anthony Davis. They had one of the hardest-working players in college basketball, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They had (get this) experience with sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, not to mention senior Darius Miller.

Now, in reference to this year’s Kentucky team, how many of those variables have carried over?

Calipari has no Darius Miller to come off the bench and provide stability when the team needs it. The only senior on the roster who sees regular minutes is Julius Mays, who is working through his own transition, having played last season at Wright State.

Aside from seniors, there are virtually no seasoned, experienced college players returning for Kentucky from last year’s national championship team. Kyle Wiltjer played, yes, but he averaged under 12 minutes per game.

For Calipari to have pieces like Jones and Lamb stay in Lexington last season was instrumental to UK’s championship run, even if they weren’t upperclassmen. In a program where the roster is turned over every season, being a sophomore with playing experience makes you a veteran by comparison.

The next biggest problem for Calipari is his point guard situation.

Ryan Harrow is just now working back to full speed after missing four games due to illness. That has meant that natural shooting guard Archie Goodwin has had to take the majority of the ballhandling duties.

Has he performed? Statistically, yes. He is the team’s leading scorer with 16.4 points per game, but he’s not built to be a true point guard. He’s averaging 4.4 assists, but also 3.2 turnovers per game.

Added to that, inconsistencies shooting from the floor as a team have plagued the Wildcats, including 29.6 percent vs. Baylor and 40 percent vs. Notre Dame.

But how can it all be remedied?

The easiest answer is that this simply does not look like a Kentucky team capable of  a Final Four run, especially with the way Florida is emerging in the SEC.

Calipari’s words have proven true that, as talented as Nerlens Noel is and the ceiling he has as far as his development goes, right now he is not where Anthony Davis was last season.

There are questions that remain at the point guard position, which is one of the more difficult liabilities to overcome.

Once they get their feet under themselves, talent alone makes them a Top 25 team. They could even reach into the Top 15, but those inconsistencies are what will keep them from making it much further than the Sweet 16 this season.

Professor’s Notes: This is a brilliantly written essay. You attack the cause of Kentucky’s problems, their lack of experience and consistent guard play, and explain why this team differs from last season’s National Championship squad. I would like to have read more about how you think Calipari can combat the issue. Nonetheless, this an excellent essay.

GRADE: A

Latest Posts
  1. 2016 guard Josh Jackson announces his new high school [VIDEO]

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports) (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

    The explosive shooting guard’s new school is located in Napa, California.

  2. Xavier’s new court design? Cincy’s skyline, but not chili (PHOTO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    @slrussell @slrussell

    The court will be redesigned by the end of the month.

  3. Recruitment starting to pick up for top 30 point forward Braxton Blackwell

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Blackwell is a member of the Class of 2016 but is already hearing from some notable programs.

  4. Rick Brunson charged with attempted sexual assault, battery

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Vernon Hills Police Department Vernon Hills Police Department

    Brunson is the father of a top 15 recruit and a potential hire for a program in the AAC.

  5. How can Wichita State build on the two best years in program history?

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Wichita State is coming off of a Final Four and an undefeated regular season. What happens if they can’t match that success again?

  6. Grant Hill donates $1.25 million to Duke

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It’s the second time Hill has donated a million to the school

  7. N.C. State releases their 2014-2015 non-conference schedule

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    It’s not that strong, but it could have been much worse.

  8. Auburn releases signee Sam Logwood from National Letter of Intent

    Jul 30, 2014, 9:32 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    The highly athletic wing is back on the market, but he’s yet to be cleared academically.

  9. Guard Quinndary Weatherspoon becomes Mississippi State’s third 2015 commit

    Jul 30, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

    Rick Ray AP

    The Bulldogs succeeded in keeping a talented in-state product home.

  10. Marquette guard Todd Mayo leaves program to pursue professional opportunities

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Todd Mayo AP

    Mayo’s decision means that Marquette has to replace its top four scorers from last season.

  11. 2015 shooting guard Terence Davis verbally commits to Ole Miss

    Jul 30, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    Andy Kennedy AP

    Just over a month after landing a junior college guard, the Rebels have their second commit in the Class of 2015.

  12. UCLA AD Dan Guerrero expects Pauley Pavilion to be ready for regular season

    Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    UCLA Introduces Steve Alford Getty Images

    UCLA is holding out hope that John Wooden Court can be salvaged, but if not they’ll have time to replace it.

  13. Mixtape for VCU-bound Terry Larrier (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Larrier is the best recruit that Shaka Smart has landed at VCU.

  14. Junior college prospect Andre Spight working to improve point guard skills

    Jul 30, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    South Plains College South Plains College

    After averaging 16.0 points per game as a freshman, the South Plains College guard is looking to become a better lead guard as a sophomore.

  15. Report: Dayton lands a three-star recruit from DC

    Jul 30, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    It’s Dayton’s third commitment from the Class of 2015

  16. Report: Top Oregon recruit denied admission to school

    Jul 30, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon is now left with just nine scholarship players, only two of whom saw significant minutes last season.