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We need to enjoy this Kentucky team

December 21, 2014 Columns No Comments
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With all the attention on Kentucky and the individual talent the Wildcats have, there’s one thing we should all follow John Calipari in doing.

Just enjoy this. Enjoy that we get a chance to see it.

“The one thing I’m doing is really enjoying these guys,” Calipari said after the Wildcats drubbed UCLA 83-44 in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago.

There’s not much that hasn’t been said about Kentucky to this point. Not much that hasn’t been said about all the high draft picks they’ll surely have if everyone leaves for the NBA. Not much that hasn’t been said about how some McDonald’s All-Americans come off the bench. Not much that hasn’t been said about their size and length. Not much that hasn’t been said about the platoon.

And there’s not much that won’t be said when it’s all over, whether they win a national championship or fall flat in the second round, whether they go undefeated or lose ten games. In trying to find something, we should come back to what Calipari talked about.

Just enjoy this. Enjoy that we get a chance to see it.

Nowadays, a lot of players are quick to run to the NBA as soon as they think they can get drafted in the first round. They may be right or wrong from a practical standpoint, and we’ll analyze that to death and see if one is right or wrong, but that happens. Kentucky has players who opted not to do that, from the Harrison twins to Willie Cauley-Stein to Alex Poythress, the last of whom is unfortunately done for the year with a torn ACL in his knee. We get to see more of them at the college level, and we should enjoy that and appreciate it.

We need to enjoy watching Kentucky’s talented players be satisfied with playing less than 25 minutes because their team won. We need to enjoy watching Kentucky’s talented players trust each other the way they do. We need to enjoy watching them win by playing tremendous defense, in an era when we often blast players who don’t defend. Kentucky held UCLA without a point for almost eight minutes to start the game, and the Bruins shot 8.1 percent from the field in the first half.

“We can all talk about defense and blocking shots and playing hard, but you’ve got 10 guys, 11 guys sharing minutes,” said Calipari.

Kentucky has won all 12 of their games by double-digits. They haven’t played a soft schedule. They’re good. We knew they would be good, and haven’t been disappointed. We wonder how they will do against future opponents, like arch-rival Louisville, who is next. We wonder if giving up offensive rebounds like they have – they gave up 20 against UCLA, and that’s not a major aberration – will one day catch up to them.

“We are the worst defensive rebounding tall team in the history of basketball,” Calipari said. “We give up too many offensive rebounds, and it’s going to cost you.”

That tells you there is room to improve. This team isn’t unbeatable yet, even though they might play like it at times. We’ll see all kinds of space devoted to whether or not they will do that, to whether or not they might beat Duke, or Arizona, or Wisconsin, or any other national title contender. We’ll see plenty of talk about how they should run through a so-so SEC.

Through it all, though, there’s one thing we should do, and that’s what their coach is doing.

Just enjoy this. Enjoy that we get a chance to see it. Because we aren’t likely to see it again very often in the future.

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