We have made it to the final chapter of the season. The Wildcats start their 2011 final exam with the Princeton Tigers. What have the Wildcats learned from this season? Will they be able to put all of the priceless experience together and go on a six game winning streak versus the top competition in college basketball? We will soon find out.
What is certain is that the Wildcats have grown-up. We saw a young and inexperienced team struggle on the road during conference play in the regular season. That same team turned everything around and was crowned SEC Tournament Champions.
Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones may not have been John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins but they were everything you could have asked for from your freshmen. If John Wall had swapped seasons to this year he would have without a doubt won Player of the Year. The talent just is not as deep and skilled as it was last season.
Kentucky needs to come out and set the standards for them as a team at 2:45. One thing the Wildcats can’t afford is to have a slow start to the tournament. If they start out slow then the ‘Cats are back to phase one. If they come out and set the tone early then there should be nothing to fear.
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In the SEC Tournament the ‘Cats looked like the best team in the conference in every game they played in, due in large part to Darius Miller. Miller played the best I have seen him play in his two-year tenure at Kentucky. He brought the leadership the John Calipari had been searching for all season long.
The Wildcats, starting with the win over Tennessee in Knoxville have been playing with a purpose. Players have bought in to their roles and they have been hitting on all cylinders.
The Wildcats don’t have an easy road. They were placed in the hardest region by the committee and will have to slice through the likes of West Virginia, Ohio State and possibly Syracuse or North Carolina, just to get to the Final 4.
This wouldn’t worry you so much if the Wildcats went deeper then a six man rotation. The depth of the team is obviously a weakness of the ‘Cats. Everyone in the country understands this. The Wildcats are going to get beat up in every game they play in from here on out.
Also, with depth being an issue you can take something positive away from the negative. The youthfulness of the Wildcats helps make up for the lack in bench production. The freshmen and sophomores are fresh and who are we kidding they will be playing on adrenaline throughout the tournament.
For the Wildcats to receive a passing grade in round one of the tournament they will need to execute. If they execute and take care of the basketball it should be a walk in the park. On any given day anybody can win, which is why it is important for the ‘Cats to not come out flat in game number one. Terrence Jones will have to return to “Maui Invitational Terrence” where he opened the eyes of the entire country.
The first part of the test is always the easiest but it won’t be the case if the Wildcats come out thinking it is going to be a piece of cake. Enjoy the start to your March Madness and good luck on those brackets. We all can use a little luck in that department.