After starting SEC play 5-0, the Kentucky Wildcats have dropped their last three. The fans are getting restless with the play of this year's team. So what will it take to get the Cats back to their winning ways.
Some of the problems start with the perimeter defense. After ten years of Tubby Smith's philosophy of the "Ball Line Defense", this year's poor performance defending the three-ball may make the fans want to call Minnesota to apology for running him off. Not every team is going to hit 32 footers all night long like Mississippi State did, but UK has to pressure the outside threats a lot better.
This team also need to find a third and fourth scorer. It is well documented how great of a scoring duo Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are this year. But if I am the opposing coach, I double team both with the understanding that my five guys can outscore Kentucky's other three.
The rest of the team needs to have the confidence to take the open shot in order to free up the two main threats. It would not hurt for the open shots to go in on occasion, as well.
The biggest problem seems to be a combination of turnovers and inconsistent point guard play. These two go hand in hand, but the whole team is guilty of turnovers. Whether it is youthful mistakes or the occasional brain hiccup, UK has found almost every conceivable way to give the ball to the other team. They may have even invented some new ones.
The point guard positions is being played by committee, with each man having their own problems. Michael Porter shows flashes of great passing, but won't shoot enough and makes too many stupid mistakes.
DeAndre Liggins makes a lot of freshman mistakes. He also shoots too many bad shots, as evident with his current 38.6% field goal average. And Kevin Galloway has not developed as expected, and his lack of minutes is not helping his confidence.
This team does have a huge upside. They have a Player of the Year candidate who can blow up for 50 points at any time in Jodie Meeks. Patrick Patterson is the best big man in the SEC. There is only one senior, which means this is a team that has potential to keep getting better.
The new guys on this team like Liggins, Galloway, Darius Miller, and Josh Harrellson keep getting better every time out, Wildcat fans are some of the best in the nation and they have a tendency to push the team through hard times.
This is also only coach Billy Gillispie's second year leading the troops in Rupp Arena. He proved he is a very good coach at Texas A&M, he just needs time to build the program.
The players need to continue to adapt to the coach's scheme. Billy G. needs to continue to bring in great recruiting classes. Someone need to teach these guys how to hang on to the ball and how to hit an open shot. Although this team may not get Kentucky back to the NCAA Final Four, it won't be long until the Wildcats are right back atop the rankings as an elite program again. Let's just hope they don't throw that chance away.