Kentucky Basketball: 5 Things That Should Worry Wildcats Fans
The 2013-14 University of Kentucky basketball team is the favorite to win another SEC crown and on the short list of favorites for a national title.
However, as we've seen in the past, just because you are projected for success before the season does not mean there won't be trouble getting to March. Every team in the country has some weaknesses, no matter how much fans think otherwise.
Read on to see five specific issues that should worry Big Blue Nation to some degree.
Kentucky wasn't a particularly strong outside-shooting team last season, hitting just 34 percent from the behind the arc.
Now, while the team is obviously different this year, the same concept of the offense is there. Kentucky is made to attack the rim and finish at the rim with a couple of guys that can hit the outside shot. This year, Kentucky has Aaron Harrison and James Young to be those guys.
Both Harrison and Young have the capability to shoot from anywhere in the gym and get hot at any time. At the opposite end of the spectrum, though, they can sometimes force shots and despite not having an on-shooting night, will continue to shoot.
The Wildcats do return their best outside shooter statistically from last year in Alex Poythress, who led the team by hitting 42 percent of his shots from deep.
Lack of Guard Depth
The three guards expected to see playing time this year for the Wildcats have never seen action in a college game. Now, the one benefit is the three players are all McDonald's All-Americans and top-10 recruits for the year.
Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young will be leaned on to provide the backcourt depth this year for Kentucky, and most of it will fall on Andrew Harrison.
As the only true point guard of the group, it will be up to Andrew to stay out of foul trouble and learn head coach John Calipari's dribble-drive offense quicker than the rest. Also, with the star-studded roster the Wildcats have, Harrison will have to distribute the ball evenly.
Many people will point to the fact that Kentucky returns Jarrod Polson, and sure, he was a nice story last year in the couple of games he produced; however, you don't want to see Polson on the court if you want a deep run in March. Polson was a walk-on for a reason, and that wasn't to be playing heavy minutes for Kentucky.
Who Will Emerge as the Leader of the Team?
This might be one of the biggest question each year for a John Calipari-coached team at Kentucky. With basically a complete roster overhaul each season, the question is: Who becomes the leader and at what point in the season does he emerge?
This year, the roster returns two players who saw major playing time in Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress, as well as six freshmen who rank in the top 20 recruits in the nation.
Out of that group, someone will be forced to take control of the team and settle everyone down when the Cats are facing troubled times, be it on the road or after a loss.
My personal guess is this is made for Andrew Harrison. As the point guard and de facto coach on the floor, it will be up to Harrison to keep everyone happy by getting them their shots as well as controlling the pace of the game Kentucky plays.
Talk About Going 40-0
With arguably the greatest recruiting class coming down to Lexington, there has been talk about the team possibly going 40-0, a goal of John Calipari's.
With the idea being thrown out there that this team has the capability to accomplish such a feat, what happens if and when Kentucky loses a game? Are they able to bounce back quickly, or does it become what is wrong with this team?
How much does the talk of going undefeated and being a favorite to win the national title weigh on the team early in the season?
With a younger team and not much senior leadership, it will be interesting to see how the younger guys handle the pressure that comes with putting a Kentucky jersey on.
A Repeat of Last Year
After last year's debacle, the idea that the 2013-14 version of the Kentucky Wildcats could falter has to remain in the back of every member of Big Blue Nation's head.
Is this team capable of going undefeated? Yes.
Is this team capable of making the NIT? Yes.
The truth is, we have no idea what to expect from this team that will use six freshmen in its rotation, and that is half the fun with college basketball.
Now, it's more likely the team makes a deep run in March, but the same thing was said about last year's team. You have to think, though, Cauley-Stein and Poythress won't let the same thing happen after experiencing a down year in Lexington last season.