While the Kentucky Wildcats are coming off an NCAA national title victory in the 2011-12 season, the turnover in the program this year has created serious uncertainty around how the team will play during the 2012-13 campaign.
Star players like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller were all selected in the 2012 NBA draft, forcing head coach John Calipari to rebuild his program from the ground up.
The 7-3 start to the season isn’t what the Wildcats wanted to see, but the fact that the SEC is so dreadful and that there is plenty of time to turn the tide of the season ensures that Kentucky can be a very dangerous team.
The problem now is that, after Saturday’s matchup with Marshall, the team will not play again until Saturday, Dec. 29, when they square off against the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals.
While the holiday break is a nightmare for most coaches—especially with a game the magnitude of Louisville on the horizon—Calipari has flipped the script on keeping his young talent ready to go by changing their routines.
Calipari refused to tell Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader about the outside-the-box things he would do with his athletes during the layoff, but he teased that his team could be the only one in the nation using these exercises:
I'm not going to talk about what we did because it's really interesting (and) outside the box... I don't know if anybody else is doing it. It makes you really aware if you're working or not.
The Wildcats must look for any edge they can find, as they continue to struggle against top teams in the sport this year, losing tough matchups against Notre Dame, Duke and Baylor.
With an even tougher Louisville matchup on the horizon, Kentucky needs to hit its stride, and fast.
If Calipari can get his latest group of freshmen playing well—led by guard Archie Goodwin and forward Alex Poythress, as well as the outstanding rebounding of Nerlens Noel—there is a chance the Wildcats could make a serious run in the NCAA tournament.
There is still a good chance that the young squad will fall to a Cardinals team playing well together, but Kentucky is the more talented squad and could go just as far this season if the team works to get better as a unit.
The talent is there, but the team must put all the pieces together.
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