Kentucky Basketball: Why This Freshman Class Has Fallen Short of Expectations

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2013

Kentucky Basketball: Why This Freshman Class Has Fallen Short of Expectations

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    Expectations: The act or state of looking forward or anticipating.

    Kentucky's 2012 freshman class heard that popular word tossed around quite a bit heading into this year's college basketball season.

    Coming off a National Championship season, led by what was arguably the top freshman class in college basketball history, expectations were sky high for the Wildcats heading into this year. And much of the reason for those lofty expectations was because of another highly-touted freshman class heading to Lexington.

    However, now 19 games into the season, this freshman class has simply not lived up to the hype.

    The Wildcats currently sport a 13-6 record and look nothing close to a National Championship contender. In fact, the biggest question surrounding this team right now is, if they can win enough big games to even make the NCAA Tournament this season.

    So what is the problem here in Lexington?

    Why isn't this freshman class living up to those expectations?

    Let's go ahead and point out five reasons why Kentucky's freshmen have fallen short of expectations.

    Right here, right now!

Lack of Offense Down Low

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    Make no mistake about it, Nerlens Noel is one of the most talented players in college basketball and a sure lock to be a lottery pick if he heads to the NBA after this season.

    But as good as Noel is, he isn't much of a threat down low on the offensive end of the court.

    Last year, Anthony Davis was a dominant force for this Kentucky team at both ends of the court. He could score in a variety of ways on offense, which is something that Noel just simply isn't able to do at this point in his young career.

    Because of that, Kentucky really lacks any type of offensive presence down low.

    Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer is a 6-foot-10 power forward, but he far from a post presence.

    Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein has great size at 7-foot, 245 pounds, but like Noel, his offensive game is extremely raw at this point and needs time to develop.

    Not being able to dump the ball down low and have their big men create really hurts this Kentucky team, and you can see that by the results out on the court.

Too Many Turnovers

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    Kentucky is averaging far too many turnovers this season, and a large part of that has to do with this freshman class.

    Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel are all averaging two-or-more turnovers-per-game this season.

    Goodwin, who has been asked at times to play out of position at point guard this season, is averaging more than three turnovers-per-game, which is simply unacceptable.

    To provide some comparison, Kentucky's 2012 National Championship team averaged 11 turnovers-per-game, and the same for the 2010-11 team. This year's team is turning the ball over 13 times-per-game.

    You simply can't win big basketball games when you are coughing the ball up that many times on offense.

Poor Outside Shooting

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    Outside shooting has been a staple of Kentucky teams over the past couple of years.

    Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe were all guys who could stroke it from deep. This year's freshmen class simply dosen't have anyone who can fit that bill.

    Archie Goodwin, Kentucky's starting shooting guard, is shooting just under 29 percent from 3-point range. Alex Poythress, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein are all post players who don't shoot much from downtown.

    As a team, the Wildcats shoot just over 35 percent from downtown, which is pretty average, but this freshmen class certainly isn't helping that percentage move up.

Lack of Talent at Point Guard

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    John Calipari has been known for recruiting some of the best college point guards to ever play the game.

    Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague all enjoyed exceptional freshman campaigns under Calipari's watch.

    But this season, Calipari missed out on recruiting one of those top point guard prospects, and the results have shown on the basketball court.

    Kentucky's starting point guard, sophomore Ryan Harrow, has struggled mightily at times this season. Because of that, Calipari has been forced to use Archie Goodwin at point guard for stretches, and it has become obvious that is not going to work either, as Goodwin is a slasher, not a distributor.

    This has been an ongoing problem for this year's Kentucky team, and without any clear solution in sight, this is something that could ultimately end Kentucky's season much earlier than many expected heading into the year.

No One Will Step Up in Crunch Time

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    Here is the million dollar question for this year's Kentucky Basketball team: Who is going to take the final shot in a close game?

    Archie Goodwin is the best slasher on this team, but he has had his chances and came up empty.

    Alex Poythress could be an option, but he isn't a great ball handler.

    Nerlens Noel is a good option to finish a play, but he certainly isn't going to have the ball in his hands out on the perimeter with time running down on the clock.

    This freshmen class really doesn't have a guy who can take over a game in the final minutes. They don't have anyone who commands the ball and fits the role of the team's "closer."

    That right there is the final major reason why this class has and will continue to fall short of those high expectations.