Struggling Cats can still save season
by Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media
Never has a group of Kentucky basketball players or coaching staff needed a wild, passionate, and devoted Rupp Arena full of BBN fanatics more than the upcoming home stand. Well, maybe never in the history of UK hoops, but definitely during the Coach Cal era.
With that request I’m not going to talk about the events that took place last week associated with UK basketball; they’ve been well documented in various other media outlets that I’m sure you’ve visited and I can’t bring anything more to the table anyway, other than possibly all you folks who chastised and berated Sean Woods back in November might want to humbly write him a letter of apology and ask for his forgiveness, because he saw a lot of this coming before even Calipari did.
There have been deeper holes dug in the past by other less talented UK teams that have been overcome with a pleasant ending, and I see no reason this team can’t if they want to.
Here is my three-step plan to right the ship and get UK’s players some measure of confidence back after it was shattered last week.
Step 1 - If the true diehard members of BBN show up the next two Wednesday nights and create a true old time Kentucky home court advantage, then there is no reasonable excuse for a team with three McDonald’s All Americans (Kyle Wiltjer, Alex Poythress, and Archie Goodwin) alongside a top 50 pick in Willie Cauley-Stein, and throw in about 25 to 30 solid minutes from the likes of a veteran player like Julius Mays, to go down to defeat to this year’s teams from Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
Step 2 - Until this coming Saturday, in between the Vandy and State games, everybody needs to pull out your rabbit’s foot and place it in your left pocket each morning. Pick up every penny off the ground that’s turned heads up from Pikeville to Paducah. Then pull in whatever markers you have left to pull in and keep Doug Shows and Jamie Lucke off the game against Missouri, and get Tony Greene on it if possible. Then very humbly look up to the sky and say your prayers every night this week and ask Adolph and Bill Keightley to intervene with all their heavenly powers. In closing, just to sweeten the pot in the home team’s favor this Saturday, let’s all humbly apologize to Digger Phelps on any and all social media outlets this week for any of your past comments, and then maybe lightning will strike and the ultimate leprechaun will dance a Wildcat jig during ESPN Game Day festivities and get the crowd fired up to fever pitch.
Step 3 - If step one and two falls into place, it should build some newfound confidence back into the meager six-man rotation Cal is trying to finish the regular season with, and hopefully be enough to steal at least one win out of those remaining two road games. But make no mistake, winning a road game, even in the SEC with this new extremely wounded Wildcat roster, will be a tall task. But running the table on this home stand and winning at either Arkansas or Georgia should take the Cats into the SEC tourney with a puncher’s chance of still pulling out enough wins for an NCAA invitation.
All bets are off the table for the Florida game on senior day, until we see how this home stand plays out.
Coach Cal takes one more stab at changing team’s mindset
After what I’m sure was a restless Saturday night of sleep and an early Sunday morning visit to mass, Coach Cal reported on his website that he was not ready to throw the towel in. He had already met with some of the team to start circling the wagons and come up with a new plan for the remaining six games to salvage the regular season, and go on to Nashville to build a better résumé for the NCAA selection committee to ponder.
Coach Cal has been a master motivator in recent years, but he has the ultimate player problem of individual confidence with a few, and team chemistry with all lying in front of him with just a few days to correct it. But make no mistake, he feels just as confident as ever in his team, based on his Sunday afternoon remarks on his website.
Here are a few of his statements after a miserable time-consuming bus ride back north on I-75, and a night’s worth of reflection at his home:
“Make no mistake about it, we are still in a great position to do whatever we want to do. We can still write our own story,” said Cal.
He additionally stated that he refused to believe the players didn’t have the fight in them to come back strong, and he refused to believe they aren’t coachable, because we have good kids.
In his closing statement he referred to a quote made by Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 1960’s and 70’s. Calipari told his team through King’s quote that, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
Your preaching to the choir now, Coach Cal, our choir of the BBN. Hopefully they will all show up the next three games with their deepest and loudest voices to date.
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