Monday, November 24, 2014

Hold off on the coronation

OK, first things first: The Kentucky Wildcats are really good.

Scary good. Preposterously good. Maybe even transcendently good.

But ...

But it's time to interject a "but."

I say this because it's still November and still on the near side of Thanksgiving, and thus a time for pumping the brakes when it comes to college basketball. And yet everyone -- or almost everyone -- is burying the throttle when it comes to the Wildcats.

Their utter dismantling of Kansas -- the Jayhawks didn't even shoot 20 percent against the swarming, endlessly deep Kentucky "D" -- has an unsettling number of people already conceding the NCAA championship to Big Blue more than four months from Final Four weekend. Some people are even saying the Kats are going to go undefeated.

Let me be the first (and maybe the only) to say that's absurd.

Kentucky is not going to go undefeated. If I'm wrong, print this out, bring it back to me in April and I'll eat it. I won't even use salt and pepper.

The Wildcats are not going to go undefeated because, first of all, history is against them, and history is even deeper and more overwhelming on defense than the Kats. No NCAA champ has gone undefeated since 1976, when Indiana did it and Bob Knight still thought plaid sport coats were the last word in fashion. And it's more unlikely to happen now than it was in 1976.

That's because there is more talent everywhere now, which means there are going to be more nights when someone jumps up and gets you.  And the talent tends to skew younger these days, college basketball having become little more than a Stuckey's on the road to the NBA for your more advanced young'uns.

This is especially true at Kentucky, where John Calipari has perfected the one-and-done fandango to an art form. There are 10 freshmen and sophomores on UK's roster this year, pretty much the norm for a Calipari team. So, as always, they're young. And, as always, young players tend to have focus issues more than older players.

What this says to me is somewhere out there in the next four months lies a night when the Kats show up in mail-it-in mode. It's almost inevitable, given how long the season lasts. And on that night, someone else who's been itching to get at them (because everyone will be) will get them.

It's going to happen. Maybe only once, but it's going to happen.

 Does that mean the Kats still aren't frighteningly good?

No. The Kansas game showed us what they're capable of. And their 86-28 demolition of poor Montana State yesterday -- the Kats forced 21 turnovers and harassed Montana State into 20 percent shooting -- only reiterated the point.

But the Kansas team they beat came in off a so-so 10-point win over UC-Santa Barbara. And Montana State is winless at 0-4. So it might be wise to temper things a bit.

Or, you know, a lot.

No comments:

Post a Comment