Tag: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker makes Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wear UConn shirt after National Title win over Kentucky (PHOTO)

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Kemba Walker led UConn to a National Title three years ago. The next season, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis propelled Kentucky to the program’s eighth championship.

In consecutive seasons, the Charlotte Bobcats used draft picks on Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist. On Monday night, the teammates watched the championship game, rooting for their former schools. From start to finish, Walker’s Huskies led, beating MKG’s Wildcats, 60-54, in front of a record crowd inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Following the game, the two Bobcats posed for a picture with Kidd-Gilchrist wearing a No. 15 UConn T-shirt.

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

Boise State v Kentucky

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.

How much will Shabazz Muhammad affect UCLA this year?

Indiana State v UCLA
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I had UCLA ranked 25th in the preseason.

That was well below where everyone else had them.

My thinking?

The pieces didn’t fit for the Bruins. Their point guard play was reliant up a 6-foot-9 freshman, Kyle Anderson, nicknamed ‘slo-mo’ and a guy that flamed out at North Carolina, Larry Drew II, in about as epic a fashion as you’ll see. Their roster makeup included a lot of freshmen, a couple of overweight big men, a lack of perimeter shooting and no where near the kind of defensive ability we’re used to seeing with a Ben Howland team.

But most importantly, Shabazz Muhammad was dealing with eligibility issues. There was no indication, at the time, of when — or if — he’d ever be allowed to play college basketball.

Well, now we know the answer to that: he’ll be in the lineup on Monday against Georgetown.

And that means that UCLA’s potential this season skyrocketed.

The biggest concern I had with Shabazz’s return is that sitting out ten games would mean that his return to the lineup could cause issues with the rotation, with understanding of roles, with minutes that wings play. And his return could still cause those problems, but tendencies that are built up over three games are much easier to break than habits developed over a third of the season.

The bottom line is this: Muhammad is a top five pick. He’s not a pure scorer at this point in his career, but he’s tough, incredibly athletic and as competitive as anyone in the country. They are different players, but imagine the impact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had on Kentucky last season. That’s how big of a deal Friday’s ruling by the NCAA is.

What this ruling doesn’t change, however, are the other underlying issues: roster makeup, Josh Smith’s weight problems, perimeter shooting.

But the infusion of talent will make it easier for UCLA to overcome those issues.

So is UCLA still the 25th best team in the country?

I’ll tell you on Wednesday morning, after the Legends Classic.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.