Skip to content

Difference between Kentucky, ’12 title team: role players?

Dec 15, 2013, 9:02 AM EDT

source: Getty Images

I wrote a column last night on No. 11 Kentucky and their 82-77 loss to No. 18 North Carolina.

But I wasn’t in Chapel Hill.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com was.

He wrote a column too, and it included this passage, which I found particularly interesting:

It was interesting to watch in person because the TV cameras couldn’t have possibly captured the extent to which Calipari was bothered by his players breaking down individually and collectively against UNC. I watched guys check-in and out without touching hands, which isn’t a big deal except for that it rarely happens with close teams. I saw Julius Randle roll his eyes at his guards — specifically Andrew and Aaron Harrison — whenever they failed to even think about getting him the ball on the block. I witnessed Calipari reduced to yelling at players to huddle after a foul when most players these days simply huddle on their own.

The point has been made over and over again. If the last two seasons have proven anything to us, it’s that we certainly did not appreciate what we were watching as Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist rolled through everyone en route to the 2012 national title.

Those two were special.

That team was special.

But the reason why is more than the simple fact that Davis was the National Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the draft and Kidd-Gilchrist was an All-American and the No. 2 pick in the draft.

The truth is that Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were role players on that team. Say what you will about points and rebounds and whatever, Davis was a guy that anchored a top ten defense and was a finisher around the rim. Kidd-Gilchrist was the epitome of a glue-guy. He defended. He rebounded. He set screens, he dove on the floor and, from people I’ve talked to, he was much more of a leader in that locker room than he got credit for.

They got their points because they were just that talented and that good in their roles, but they weren’t go-to guys on that team. They didn’t need the ball in their hands to have a huge impact on a game. They bought into what John Calipari was selling. They, quite literally, did whatever the team needed them to do to win.

And since Kentucky also just so happened to have four other NBA draft picks on that roster, they were dominant.

This year’s Kentucky team may have more talent from top-to-bottom, but they don’t have that superstar that’s willing to play a role. Willie Cauley-Stein plays a role, but that’s because he can’t do anything beyond block a shot, get a rebound and run the floor. He’s not a pick-and-pop big man and you’re not running plays to get him the ball with his back to the basket.

To be frank, in my opinion, the guy that’s going to have to make the sacrifice is Julius Randle simply because he’s the only other starter that can do more than score. Can you see either of the Harrisons putting their body on the line to get a loose ball? Can you see James Young setting a back-screen on Patric Young to get Cauley-Stein a lane to the rim?

Because I sure can’t.

And while there isn’t a quick fix to Kentucky’s problems this season, finding a guy to lead by example wouldn’t be a bad place to start turning things around.

I just don’t know if they have the pieces they need to do it.

Latest Posts
  1. Rutgers lands impact junior college forward

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Wisconsin v Rutgers Getty Images

    Rutgers added a potential starter for next season on Monday.

  2. N.C. State lands commitment from athletic 2015 forward

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Temple v North Carolina State Getty Images

    N.C. State landed a surprise commitment from an athletic 2015 forward on Monday night.

  3. Report: NCAA rules committee could change men’s basketball to 30-second shot clock

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

    The NCAA is considering moving the shot clock to 30 seconds in men’s basketball.

  4. Duke lands five-star Class of 2015 wing Brandon Ingram

    Apr 27, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Getty Images) (Kelly Kline/Getty Images)

    Duke picked up its second major commitment in recent weeks with the addition of five-star wing Brandon Ingram.

  5. Seven takeaways from the AAU weekend at Nike EYBL, UAA and adidas Gauntlet

    Apr 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/adidas) (Kelly Kline/adidas)

    Here’s seven takeaways from a busy weekend at the three shoe company events.

  6. Top ten recruit Jayson Tatum dunks on defender (VIDEO)

    Apr 27, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    Tatum might be the best player in the Class of 2016.

  7. Field for the 2015 Veterans Classic announced

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    It will feature a preseason top five team.

  8. College basketball’s seven biggest early entry losers for the 2015-2016 season

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:48 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who were the biggest losers of the early entry deadline?

  9. College basketball’s six biggest early entry winners for the 2015-2016 season

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Which potential draft picks returning to school will be the most influential in 2015-16?

  10. Austin Hatch’s inspirational basketball career has come to a close

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Hatch is one of the most inspirational people you will ever hear about

  11. UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Marcus Paige (Getty Images) Getty Images

    The return of Buddy Hield pushes previously unranked Oklahoma into our way too early rankings.

  12. 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who’s going pro? Who’s returning to school? Who are we still waiting to hear from?

  13. Texas A&M adds former USF point guard, eligible immediately

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Collins averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, and his arrival could lead to Alex Caruso getting more scoring opportunities off the ball.

  14. Alcorn State announces hiring of Montez Robinson as head coach

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT

    Bethune-Cookman Athletics Bethune-Cookman Athletics

    Robinson has quite the rebuilding job on his hands, but guard LeAntwan Luckett (16.3 ppg) is one of the team’s top four scorers who have eligibility remaining.

  15. Former Arizona State signee headed to Washington

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Dominic Green was released from his National Letter of Intent to Arizona State a couple weeks ago.

  16. New NCAA VP of Division I governance wants to take closer look at graduate ‘transfer’ rules

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    In addition to making graduates sit out a year, there’s also consideration of the idea that schools can restrict where they can go.

  17. Top 100 point guard headed to Iowa State

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg Fred Hoiberg

    Nick Noskowiak joins former Arkansas guard Nick Babb as players who have committed to Iowa State this month.

  18. Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Skinner_web

    Skinner was the longtime coach of Boston College.