November 6th 2012
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On my radio show, ESPNís Andy Katz said itís conceivable that Kentucky could lose all four of its big non-conference games in November and December and still reach the Final Four. Heís right but I doubt the Cats will go 0-4 in those games but after watching two preseason games, I also know that John Calipari is not just blowing smoke when he talks about how far his team is away from those kinds of thoughts right now.
You saw that in the first half of the Transy game. A short, outmanned team of seniors frustrated a more talented but young Kentucky team. UK players would get past their man but find that Transy players had rotated into the proper spots and there was nowhere to go and the Cats made more first-half turnovers (10) than baskets (9). Theyíll face those kinds of obstacles against the likes of Maryland and Duke and encounter more size and talent along the way, so thatís why it is so important that the Cats bring the defensive intensity the way they did in the second half last night.
UK had 8 of its 11 steals in the second half and that led to transition opportunities and thatís where this team will look best on offense until their halfcourt game evolves. And thatís why a guy like Julius Mays and his ability to score in a halfcourt game will be more important to this teamís early success that I realized.
Nerlens Noelís development in the last two weeks is exciting and the more I see of him and Willie Cauley-Stein on the court together, the more I like it. And UK most definitely needs Kyle Wiltjer and Alex Poythress to step it up before Friday.
The best advice comes from Calipari--just enjoy the ride and be patient. Remember that this time does not have the experience that UK had on Cal's first and third teams and remember that his second team had all of those practices and games in Canada in August.
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