Kentucky doesn’t have John Wall. No DeMarcus Cousins. No Patrick Patterson or Eric Bledsoe. As a result, the 2010-11 version’s not as athletic or as imposing inside. But the Wildcats are still scary. And we’ll see just how scary this week in the Maui Invitational.
As Glenn Logan at A Sea of Blue writes, Kentucky doesn’t have that dominate post player (Enes Kanter), but they have other strengths.
The Wildcats are more adept along the perimeter, both in ball handlers and shooting. (Ask any Kentucky fan how much they would’ve liked to have a reliable outside shooter against West Virginia.) They move the ball better, excel at getting into the lane and are feature a lineup of athletes most coaches would crave.
Defense could be an issue, but this is where John Calipari can burnish his image as a coach and not just a remarkable recruiter. His tweaks to zone defense – mostly with 6-8 freshmen Terrence Jones – could be a godsend against bigger opponents. (Against teams with your usual smattering of guys 6-feet to 6-9, the zone may not be necessary.) If that works, think of what it means for Calipari and the Kentucky program – just bring in the top-flight players, adjust as needed and watch the wins roll in.
If that sounds easy, think again. Texas faded last season despite a plethora of talent. North Carolina missed the NCAA tournament last season and is now 2-2 despite its bevy of five-star prospects. Getting that talent to live up to its potential isn’t a given, but it seems as though Calipari’s gonna pull it off. Again.