Kentucky Basketball: 10 Reasons They're the Most Dominant Team in the Country

Matt Overing@@MOveringContributor IIINovember 23, 2011

Kentucky Basketball: 10 Reasons They're the Most Dominant Team in the Country

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    The Kentucky Wildcats went to the Elite Eight in their first year under head coach John Calipari. Last year (Calipari's second), the Cats beat Ohio State and North Carolina to make it to the Final Four.

    And this year's team is even better.

    I'm sure you've heard the argument—another great Calipari recruiting class plus returning players Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb equals one of the deepest teams Cal has ever coached.

    Kentucky will be great, and I hope you know this by now. But that's not what I'm going to tell you.

    I'm here to tell you why they will be the most dominant team in all of college basketball.

    Note: Once again, expect overwhelming bias. If you are a Volunteer, Cardinal or pretty much a fan of any team other than Kentucky, be prepared. And if you disagree, feel free to comment and discuss why.

Starting Five

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    Two sophomores and three freshmen make up one of the most dynamic starting fives in the nation.

    Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb have been the most consistent thus far.

    Freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Anthony Davis have shown their versatility on both sides of the ball.

    All five can finish with authority around the rim.

    Lamb has spot-up shooting skill as good as anyone in the country. 

    They play superb team defense and shoot 55.2 percent from the field, dominating every aspect of every game.


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    Kyle Wiltjer and Darius Miller could start for 95 percent of all the other teams in the NCAA. 

    Both are vastly underrated because of their limited playing time for Kentucky.

    Wiltjer may need to improve his defense, but his timing for blocking shots is impressive.

    His range can stretch any defense, and his hook shot looks downright cool.

    As for Miller, his entire game is underrated. He leads Kentucky in assists, rebounds well and plays solid defense. 

    Deeper reserves, including Eloy Vargas and Jon Hood, will also be used.

    Vargas has surprisingly made an improvement this year in rebounding the basketball, and Hood should contribute when he comes back from injury.

    All of these players will be implemented in a very deep rotation for Coach Calipari.


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    Kentucky has not played well for a full 40 minutes all year. 

    The Wildcats outscored Marist by 41 in the second half and Kansas by 10.

    Against Penn State, Kentucky put together a great first half going up 47-15.

    This was arguably their best 20 minutes of basketball all season, defensively and offensively.

    Old Dominion provided the Wildcats with a challenge, but the more talented Wildcats prevailed.

    When will we see a full well-played game from the Wildcats?

    Does it matter?

    Kansas held Kentucky in check for one half. Old Dominion kept the game relatively close throughout but was unable to stop Kentucky when it mattered.

    Marquis Teague has been a turnover machine. Anthony Davis averages three fouls a game. Both players have immeasurable talent and will get better with every game.

    The Kentucky Wildcats are young, and when they hit their stride, watch out.

Anthony Davis

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    Potential? Anthony Davis has potential.

    As previously stated, he has averaged three fouls per game this year.

    Those fouls are keeping Davis out of the game, removing not only his easy-to-oop frame from the offense, but also his tremendous shot-blocking capabilities on defense.

    Davis needs to be more physical when rebounding, his free throws need work and he needs to stay on his feet more often.

    But he has the potential to be the best player on this Kentucky team.

    No other team has an easier way to get two points than Kentucky. No other team has a harder time scoring down low than Kentucky opponents.

    His presence on both sides of the ball makes Kentucky dominant.

Scoring Versatility

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    This Kentucky team can score from anywhere.

    Doron Lamb is shooting 52.4 percent from behind the arc.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Darius Miller and Kyle Wiltjer all have the range that forces a defense to the perimeter.

    But this team does not rely on three-pointers alone.

    Anthony Davis has a shooting percentage of 72.4 percent. Throw it anywhere around the rim, and his 6'10" frame (with a much longer wingspan) will go get it.

    Teague, Kidd-Gilchrist and Jones are among the best finishers around the rim in college basketball.

    Offensively, the Wildcats can put up points with the best of them.

Commitment to Defense

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    Defense wins championships.

    Defense is a staple of any Kentucky team, and this year is no different.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones are two of the best perimeter defenders in the country.

    On the inside, Kentucky's stats speak for themselves.

    Kentucky averages the most blocks out of any other team in the nation through the first three weeks of the season at 10.75 per game. That's 43 through four games.

    Blocks don't tell the whole story with the Wildcats' swarming defense. Kentucky does just as good of a job defending on the perimeter as they do in the paint, and it is this commitment to defense that makes Kentucky so dominant.


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    When Kentucky played Old Dominion, every player was struggling to find their comfort zone.

    Except one. 

    Darius Miller is the best sixth-man in the nation.

    His leadership against Old Dominion led the young Wildcats to a win.

    He leads the team in assists, grabs offensive rebounds and plays sticky defense.

    Alongside Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, Miller leads the fab four freshmen when they are struggling.

    A young team needs leadership, especially during conference play, and Miller provides that.

Big Blue Nation

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    Kentucky has one of the best home-court advantages in the nation, and that should be evident when the Tar Heels and Cardinals visit Lexington.

    Not to mention, the Big Blue Nation is certainly one of the best traveling fanbases in college basketball. 

    Not every game will feel like a home game for the Wildcats, but "Go Big Blue" chants will be heard wherever they play.

Staying Power

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    Kentucky has one monumental task before being able to claim the No. 1 ranking—beat North Carolina.

    Because Kentucky is playing at Rupp Arena, I give the edge to the Wildcats.

    If Kentucky does win this December 3rd duel (and provided they do not lose in the games before), they would undoubtedly be the No. 1 team in the country.

    Kentucky then has a week to prepare for upstart Indiana, a team the Wildcats have owned the past three years.

    After that game, it is smooth sailing for the Cats until their showdown New Year's Eve against rival Louisville—in Rupp Arena.

    With all of their difficult games at home, Kentucky has the staying power to be No. 1 through non-conference play.


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    This is the most talented team John Calipari has ever coached.

    Calipari knows how to coach talent—he has done it his entire coaching career.

    With this kind of depth, finding a rotation that works will be difficult, but it will be hard for him to go wrong. 

    The typical problems facing a young team are no different here—turnovers and free throws.

    The turnover problem will be resolved once Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comprehend the dribble-drive offense, and Calipari will be there to guide them.

    This team is far from cohesive, but Cal will have them clicking by March.

    All of the aforementioned qualities give John Calipari the most dominant team in the country.