Kentucky Basketball: 5 Biggest Concerns with the Wildcats' 2014 Roster
Once Louisville cut down the nets, the time to make predictions for 2013-14 started.
Who will be the next champion? What freshman will be the next star? What team will come out of nowhere to make a run in March?
The Kentucky Wildcats will enter the next season likely as one of the top teams in the country and a favorite to win their second championship in three years. Despite having a lineup dominated with freshmen, the talent on Kentucky may be the best in the country.
However, like all teams, the Wildcats will face some questions that must be answered to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a national title.
In the following five slides we will take a look at the five most critical concerns for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats in 2013-14.
Adapting to Calipari's Defense
While John Calipari is normally known for his offensive genius, it's his defensive coaching ability that makes him one of the best coaches in America.
The real question is whether the incoming players adapt to Calipari's up-tempo defense. It is required for players to guard on the wing and force steals with traps and in-your-face type of defense.
The biggest downfall from last year was not having a player to guard the wing. This year, the talent with Alex Poythress, James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison should help alleviate the pressure for the big guys to block shots.
Much like how the players will have to learn how to run the dribble-drive offense, they must also learn to run Calipari's defense to perfection if they want to play significant minutes.
Who will step up to become the leader on the court for the 2013-14 version of the Cats? Unlike last year, there is more veteran leadership to help take the role for Calipari and Kentucky.
The question is whether players like Kyle Wiltjer, Alex Poythress or WIllie Cauley-Stein will step up to be the vocal leader on the court.
All three upperclassmen tend to be more quiet and not as demonstrative as say a Terrence Jones, Patrick Patterson or Josh Harrellson in the past.
Highly touted Julius Randle will become one of the leaders for Kentucky in 2013-14. There is no doubt about that. The do-it-all forward will enter his first year in Lexington not only with high expectations but numerous responsibilities to help lead Kentucky to its ninth championship.
But, will that be enough to be the vocal leader for the Wildcats? That role will most likely fall on Andrew Harrison, who comes to Kentucky as the No. 1 rated point guard in the class of 2013. His personality makes him the ideal candidate to be loud on the court and be the coach on the floor for Calipari.
We all know about the recruiting class coming into Lexington this year. It's arguably the most decorated class not only for Kentucky, but of all time.
With six top-20 recruits joining two other McDonald's All-Americans, it can make for a crowded roster. It will be up to not only the coaching staff, but the players to come together as a team and work toward winning the title.
If each player is worried about getting their stats and thinking of their draft status, the team will not succeed. See: Kentucky Wildcats, 2012-13.
However, if the players buy into Calipari's system similar to the 2011-12 national champions, this team will not fall short of its goal of winning the national championship.
When minutes are cut, will the player will want to contribute to the team coming off the bench? Will they relish in their role, or will they hide and play mad?
These are questions within a broad subject that will be addressed only as the season goes on.
What Role Will Alex Poythress Play
Despite all of the incoming talent, Alex Poythress is the most interesting player on the Kentucky roster for 2013-14. The question, "Who is Alex Poythress?" will come up quite a bit leading into the season.
Coming into his freshman year, Poythress was projected to be a one-and-done player heading for the lottery in the 2013 NBA draft. However, a roller-coaster season brought Poythress back for his sophomore year and will be in a completely different role.
Last year he was expected to be the star of the team and a do-it-all on the court. This year, it's not unreasonable to think Poythress will be coming off the bench for Kentucky. This is a role Poythress could thrive in, similar to Darius Miller or DeAndre Liggins a few years back.
With his skill set, Poythress remains a mismatch for both wing players and power forwards due to his combination of speed and size.
The question remains though, will Poythress accept his role on this team?
What Is the Rotation
This may be the best question to have if you're John Calipari. He has nine guys who could probably start for any other team in the country. However, he still needs to come up with a starting lineup and what the rotation will be off the bench.
Egos will be hurt by this. At any given point, there will be at least three McDonald's All-Americans sitting on the bench for the Wildcats. They are going to have to accept their role and adapt.
However, the tricky thing will be sticking with the rotation if you're Calipari. He won't change the starting five too much throughout the season and obviously will adjust based on the opponent.
The ultimate question though is: Does Calipari start five freshmen? It's not outside the realm of possibility, and it really hasn't been done since the Fab Five. Don't be surprised to see this happen.