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. Indiana begins new tradition at ‘Hoosier Hysteria’ (VIDEO)

    Oct 26, 2014, 12:21 AM EDT

    Tom Crean Tom Crean

    Indiana’s nine newcomers received their candy-striped warmup pants from former IU players Saturday night.

  2. Tulsa lands verbal commitment from South Plains College guard

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Pat Birt was a Horizon League All-Freshman Team selection at UIC last season.

  3. Keifer Sykes repeats as Green Bay’s slam dunk champion (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT

    sykes AP

    Keifer Sykes is one of the best dunkers in America, and he was at it again Saturday afternoon.

  4. Tom Izzo, Steve Mariucci discuss career possibilities in college ‘flashback’ (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    tom izzo

    The intro video to Tom Izzo’s memorable entrance at “Michigan State Madness” Friday night.

  5. Hawaii considering its options regarding NCAA investigation of basketball program

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Gib Arnold AP

    While head coach Gib Arnold released a statement saying that the school had yet to receive a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, the administration is considering the option of self-imposing sanctions.

  6. Transcript controversy leads to two Florida A&M players losing their scholarships

    Oct 25, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT

    Georgia Athletics Georgia Athletics

    Byron Samuels already had a tough rebuilding job in front of him as a result of Florida A&M being hit with a postseason ban for low APR numbers.

  7. Not even Wofford’s coach saw them becoming the Southern Conference’s best program

    Oct 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Wofford guard Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mike Young has seen the Wofford men’s basketball program come a long way since he first joined the coaching staff back in 1989.

  8. Rice lands two commitments in back-to-back days

    Oct 25, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    A three-star commit on Friday night, a top-70 pledge on Saturday morning. This has been a big weekend for first-year head coach Mike Rhoades.

  9. Syracuse center has put on 45 pounds, described by NBA scout as ‘chiseled’

    Oct 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Cuse.com Cuse.com

    A story from Syracuse.com says the first-year big man does up to 500 pushups daily.

  10. Wake Forest gets 2016 commitment from assistant coach’s son

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    AP AP

    This is Danny Manning’s third commitment this month, first in the Class of 2016.

  11. 2014-15 Southern Conference Preview: Wofford, Chattanooga favored in Davidson’s absence

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Wofford guard Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Davidson is gone, but that does not mean that the SoCon will be a bad basketball league.

  12. Top 10 recruit cuts his list to three schools

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Only three programs remain in contention for the nation’s top rated point guard.

  13. Makinde London juggles three basketballs, dunks two during Xavier dunk contest (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Makinde London

    Pretty good dunk, but still not better than Chris Mack’s entrance.

  14. Roy Williams says he was ‘dumbfounded’ following Kenneth Wainstein’s report (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Roy Williams Getty Images

    The Hall of Fame coach makes his first comments, several days after Kenneth Wainstein released his report.

  15. Tom Izzo performs with KISS cover band on stage at Michigan State’s Midnight Madness (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

    tom izzo

    Tom Izzo does it again. Add it to the long line of amazing midnight madness entrances.

  16. Chris Mack and his daughters performed ‘Paul Revere’ by the Beastie Boys (PHOTO/VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Instagram/XU Athletics Instagram/XU Athletics

    Chris Mack and his daughters performed ‘Paul Revere’ at Musketeer Madness on Friday night.

  17. Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker injured at practice on Friday

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Wisconsin forward is likely to miss a week or two

  18. Providence freshman forward, a top 100 recruit, is cleared to play this season

    Oct 24, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ed Cooley Ed Cooley

    Ed Cooley adds a 6-foot-8 forward to the Friars’ front court.

  19. Larry Brown talks about Ben Emelogu’s wavier to play this season (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The former Virginia Tech Hokie will be a big boost to SMU’s perimeter.

  20. Manhattan’s returnees look to build on the achievements of last season’s senior class

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Emmy Andujar and Shane Richards will be key players for Manhattan. (AP Photo) AP

    Manhattan and head coach Steve Masiello had some issues to address this spring, but thanks in part to their departed senior class the Jaspers are well-positioned to once again contend in the MAAC.