In a recent article, Dick Vitale defends his reasoning for assigning Kentucky with a pre-season top three ranking despite the Cats losing a vast majority of their team. Oddly enough, the person forcing Vitale to defend his position was none other than John Calipari. Keep reading, it’ll make sense.
Few times in history (i.e., never) has a team lost seven key players and then been immediately ranked in the top three for the following season. But Dick Vitale explains why it’s happening with Kentucky this year. Here’s exactly what he had to say.
On another subject, I spoke to Kentucky coach John Calipari the other day. He asked me a simple question: how can people like you pick us in the top three in America for next season? Calipari reminded me that 97 percent of his scoring is gone from the championship team. As I told him, the name on the sidelines in Lexington is Calipari.
That means there is motivation and inspiration. It also means as great recruiting class as Big Blue Nation will be happy as Kentucky is back in the hunt. The Wildcats will have a dynamite group of newcomers at Rupp Arena. There will be excitement galore once again.
He may be getting old, crazy, and ever-balder, but he makes some solid points. Yes, Kentucky lost practically every player that mattered. Yes, they have will absolutely no veteran presence on next year’s team. And yes, Kyle Wiltjer is really skinny.
But as Dick points out, John Calipari is standing on the sidelines. That alone means a lot. Just that name practically guarantees a top 25 preseason ranking. Calipari knows what he’s doing. He’s returned Kentucky to prominence and he isn’t slowing down. As long as coach Cal keeps working like he has thus far, there’s no stopping the runaway train that is Wildcat basketball. He has an unmatched ability to find the hidden jewels in recruiting classes, refine them into mature and skillful players, then somehow convince them to play like a team.
Calipari may not have the top five players in the country stepping on campus this Fall, but by the time March rolls around, there’s an awfully good chance that his motivation and inspiration, as Vitale describes, will have turned a rag-tag group of young men into a team composed of the nation’s top five prospects.
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.