John Calipari

John Calipari makes a comparison for his new Kentucky team

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Expectations will be high for Kentucky as we near the start of the 2013-14 season. Probably ridiculously high, actually. But when you add six McDonald’s All-Americans to a roster that returns former McDonald’s All-Americans like Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, people tend to demand championships.

And in Lexington, championships are all that really matter.

Now that five of the eight incoming freshmen for Kentucky are on campus and working out with the team, head coach John Calipari has a better idea of where this team full of elite talent stacks up to his previous teams at Kentucky.

Calipari already noted that Poythress and Cauley-Stein have had to raise their level of play by now squaring off against newcomers Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson — each of whom are the No. 1 player at their position according to some recruiting analysts.

But while many will want to compare this group to the 2012 national championship team, Calipari told Kyle Tucker of USA Today Sports that it’s more like another team he previously coached at Kentucky.

“I compare this team more to our team my first year (2010) than I compare them to the 2012 team,” Calipari said. “This will be probably a team that won’t be a great, great execution team, because there’s so many new guys like our first team, yet a team that physically can do things – athletically, physically, skill-wise – to beat teams even though they’re not the greatest execution team.”
This Kentucky team in 2013-14 will certainly have the talent — and unlike last season, the depth — to compete for a national championship but it will likely all depend on how all of that talent co-exists and plays as a team.

It will take time for so much talent to learn to play together, but Kentucky is one of a number of riveting subplots to monitor as we get closer to next season.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.

Arizona’s Tarczewski out 4-to-6 weeks

Kaleb Tarczewski, Sean Miller
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Arizona will be without senior center Kaleb Tarczewski for 4-to-6 weeks, the school announced on Tuesday. The 7-foot Tarczewski suffered a stress reaction and strained muscle to his left foot and he’ll have some time to heal before the main portion of the Pac-12 conference schedule.

The experienced Tarczewski was averaging 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game before going down with injury. Without the senior in the lineup, Arizona fell to Providence in the Wooden Legacy last week. Without Tarczewski in the lineup, the Wildcats could turn to center Dusan Ristic while forward Ryan Anderson has had some solid outings this season.

Missing Tarczewski for the rest of non-conference play will hurt but he’ll get to rest and recover for the stretch run while the Wildcats can mix in some new frontcourt pieces.