How far can the Kentucky Wildcats go?
Basketball : How about them cats? New writer Byron Lowe bring us up to speed
As we close down the season and end February, there are still a lot of question marks that are raised with this 2017-2018 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats. This team not even a month ago went on the worst losing run that John Calipari has ever had at Kentucky. During that 2-week time when the Cats dropped four-straight, there was a moment where some believed the Cats were NIT bound. Since then, Calipari’s Wildcats have been able to pull some things together and now have even re-emerged into the top 25. As we tumble into March the question with a large number of Kentucky Wildcat fans have a question, “can we make a run?”.
After the Cats had a remarkable come from behind win against the well-coached West Virginia Mountaineers in late January, the state of Kentucky was abuzz. There was a sense that this was going to be where this team turns it around. Up to that point Kentucky had been a roller-coaster ride, that had some extreme highs and lows. They had made it and this time finally figured it out. The Wildcats then hosted Vanderbilt, and won in overtime after tying the game in the closing seconds of regulation. This team had some excitement that the fan base could finally get behind. Calipari’s freshmen heavy team was one that many in the bluegrass had a hard time accepting as their own, and now they had seen true signs of progress.
Even though things may have felt great, things were most certainly not. The Wildcats then went on to lose an abysmal four straight games. This stretch was the worst that John Calipari had ever gone through as his time as the coach at Kentucky. It seemed as though all the bad habits, all the mistakes that were made early on were back and weren’t going anywhere soon. Wildcat faithful watched for four games as their team got out scored, out worked, and out hustled. It got to the point where John Calipari said, “I have failed this team”. Some critics of Coach Cal were not disagreeing, saying he got “outcoached” in the second half of a few of these games. Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Auburn all won in games where the Cats just got outperformed.
After this skid Kevin Knox confirmed, that Hamidou Diallo and Wynyen Gabriel called a players-only meeting to “hash out” what needed to be fixed. This seems to have been another true turning point for, the youngest team in NCAA D1 basketball. As the Wildcats faced Arkansas and Alabama, no one knew how things were going to play out. The state of Kentucky was pleasantly surprised when the Wildcats were able to win both of those games in a controlled fashion. This team still has a lot of upside and has already proved that they can compete with the top teams in the country. The question is can this team improve enough by the start of the tournament to make a run.
The answer for myself is yes, but for most it is still an undecided. Kevin Knox and Shea Gilgeous- Alexander are remarkable talents. No they may not be the John Wall or Anthony Davis, but we have seen by both of these players they can take over a game. As Kentucky fans we have two options. We can either give up on this team, and wait for next year. The other option is that we can encourage this team, and believe in these young men. I think that as fans we must remember that these are talented athletes, with a talented coaching staff. Kentucky faithful should keep in mind, sometimes all it takes to turn a team around is a “tweak”.