Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats Players Under Most Pressure in 2013-14 Season
Kentucky basketball fans expect a championship every season. This expectation may not be any more prevalent than in the 2013-14 season.
With two returning starters, the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year and arguably the greatest recruiting class ever meshing together in Lexington, a ninth NCAA title banner is what should be raised.
Now, with these expectations from Big Blue Nation comes pressure for players. We'll take a look at the three members on the Wildcats' 2013-14 roster that face the most pressure.
3. Alex Poythress
Alex Poythress entered college with a lot of hype. As a McDonald's All-American and Sporting News second-team preseason All-American, Poythress was expected to be the next great wing player for John Calipari.
However, Poythress had what was considered a down year after being second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding. He showed glimpses of breaking out, but for the most part of the season was inconsistent, drawing the ire of Big Blue Nation.
Poythress decided to come back for his sophomore season and will be looked at not only for leadership but as a star for the Kentucky squad in 2013-14. With his 6'7" frame and ability to play both inside and out, he provides a mismatch for most opponents.
The question will be whether he remain consistent and stop having to look over his shoulder to see if James Young has passed him on the depth chart.
Poythress will play a large part in whether Kentucky raises its ninth championship banner after the 2014 season.
2. Andrew Harrison
Much like the quarterback for the Cowboys, the quarterback for Alabama or the star for the Lakers, the most scrutinized player in college basketball tends to be the point guard for John Calipari at Kentucky.
It will be no different this year for Andrew Harrison.
Harrison comes into Lexington as the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2013 and the No. 5 overall player. Most importantly, he will be handed the keys to the car immediately, as the player expected to make Kentucky's offense sing.
Coupled with the fact that he plays for John Calipari, Harrison's play will be a direct link to how people view Calipari's recruiting and coaching style. If Harrison is able to come in, play well and help lead Kentucky to a Final Four, those out there who say Calipari's style won't carry over can't talk for another year.
If Harrison fails like Ryan Harrow did last season, however, it will be a long offseason for both the point guard and the head coach.
The most pressure for Harrison might actually come from his own teammates, who expect him to set them up for scoring chances. Playing with a copious amount of talent, it will be up to Harrison to keep everyone happy with shot attempts.
1. John Calipari
Okay, John Calipari isn't a player, but he is the person associated with Kentucky basketball who faces the most pressure this year.
Don't get me wrong, Calipari isn't on the hot seat by any means. But coming off of a first-round loss in the NIT, Calipari needs a deep run in the NCAA tournament to fend off any negative offseason talk about him.
With a loaded roster coming into the 2013-14 season, Big Blue Nation expects a title and that falls on Calipari's coaching ability. And perhaps most importantly, a title can keep those who doubt his style of recruiting the best players silent—even if it's just for one year.
Another championship or a trip to the Final Four will help solidify Calipari's legacy both at the University of Kentucky and in college basketball. He's often overlooked as one of the best coaches in the game currently and a successful season will help fix that.