Jay Bilas is one of the smartest men in basketball. He’s in the Bahamas providing color commentary for Kentucky’s televised scrimmages, and he’s done a fantastic job doing so.
Coach Cal brought Bilas in to speak with his team on Wednesday, their day off, and recorded what he had to say to them. The most interesting passage is as follows:
“You are going to be talked about as much, if not more than any team in the country,” Bilas said. “And arguably, any team over the last 20 years. As your season goes along, there are going to be people like me in my job, at the start of the year, we’re going to talk about how good you can be. Then, we’re going to talk about how good you are. Then, people are going to get bored with that. We’re going to start talking about what are their weaknesses. Instead of talking about what you’re really good at, they’re going to start hammering at little things, make you see a crack. It may exist, it may not. But they’ll talk about that.”
He’s exactly right. If all goes according to plan, this is how Kentucky’s season is going to play out:
- The young Wildcats will get challenged and tested during November and December, losing a game or two to someone like Louisville or Texas or Kansas.
- They’ll hit their stride during SEC play when, believe it or not, their schedule gets a bit easier and their play starts peaking as guys figure out their roles and Calipari figures out his rotation.
- Like in 2012, they will head into March as the best team in the country and the favorite to win the national title.
At that point, what will happen is that the talking point will shift. Instead of talking about how good this team can be, everyone will eventually begin to talk about whether or not Kentucky can be beaten and how it can be done.
So if, heading into the NCAA tournament, Kentucky is 32-2, don’t be surprised to se multiple columns here discussing how Kentucky’s weaknesses, whatever they are, can be exploited.
Because that’s the way it works when you’re the favorite to win.
Sam Vecenie of the Athletic and the Game Theory podcast stopped by to chat with Rob Dauster about the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. The two went through each of the eight Sweet 16 matchups, detailing how each one of those eight games projects to play out and going over which lines — spread and over-unders — they like.
Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley will be the next head coach at UConn, replacing the 2014 national title winner, Kevin Ollie.
Hurley will be signing a six-year deal, according to multiple reports, that could be valued as much as $18 million. Hurley picked UConn over Pitt, who had also offered him a similar amount of money.
Hurley turned the Rhode Island program around during his six-year tenure, capped off with a pair of seasons where the Rams won a game in the NCAA tournament. UConn, which is one of the best jobs but has not been one of the best teams in the AAC in recent years, should be a place where he can continue to recruit talent. Under Ollie, the Huskies have been able to get players. The issue has been the performance and development of those players once they get to campus.
The Huskies finished 14-18 this past season.
Dan Hurley is the son of New Jersey high school coaching legend Bob Hurley and the brother of former Duke guard and current Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley.
Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.
Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.
A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.
Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.
Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.
The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.
Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.
“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”
The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.
Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.
Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.
“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”
Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.
In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.