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2000-10 Season Analytical Writings
Calipari has 11 scholarship players as of now, just as he promised several weeks ago [10 or 11] with Dodson's status being the deciding factor on the final number. Dodson is back, and the number is 11. At 11 scholarship players, this team has one less player for 2011 than it did for the 2010 season.
I believe the roster is now set for the 2010-11 season, at least with respect to players who will be eligible to play. However, I am not convinced that Calipari is done yet, and it would not surprise me to see the big kid from UTEP transfer into UK this summer and spend a year on the practice floor against Kanter, Jones, and Vargas. Regardless, I think we now know who will appear on the floor for the Cats next season.
I share the concern about depth at point guard, and agree that Calipari may fill this responsibility by committee [Miller, Liggins, and Lamb]. I believe that is not the most comforting scenario given that Knight is a freshman, and there is always a risk of injury. However, given the need to hold spots open for the powerful 2011 recruiting class, I fully understand why the roster is currently composed just as it is. I would not swap any of the incoming players for another incoming true point guard, and with Bledsoe's exit after just one year, the returning portion of the roster leaves only the Miller-Liggins option for this backup point guard role.
For weeks, it has been clear that the most critical recruiting need that Calipari faced for 2010 was to get at least 2 capable interior players. Vargas and Jones fill that bill as far as I am concerned. Therefore, in my view, the 2010 recruiting class could not have ended must better for the Cats in 2010-11 than the way it has finally played out.
So, let the comparisons begin:
1. How will this team compare to last year's team?
2. How will this team compare to the field next season?
I am sure that folks will frame the 2010 v 2011 comparisons in many ways. Here is mine.
PG: Wall v Knight
I do not think there is any doubt that Wall is one of the best PGs ever to wear the UK uniform. He has probably earned the #1 NBA draft pick, just as the experts said he would do a year ago. However, Knight is not chopped liver. He will bring a different set of skills to the floor. I doubt that Knight will end the season with the levels of recognition as Wall, but I am not concerned that the drop off at PG will be all that great, or significant. Advantage 2010.
C: Cousins v Kanter
A year ago, Cousins was clearly a player with potential for greatness, but unlike Wall, I do not recall many people who projected Cousins as a top 5 NBA draft pick after just one season at UK. We all know that Cousin's growth over the one season working with Calipari was nothing short of phenomenal. Kanter's pre-season hype is perhaps greater than Cousin's was, but it remains to be seen how much Kanter will benefit from a year of Calipari's coaching. I believe Kanter will benefit greatly, and I believe that at the least, Kanter will mean as much to the 2011 Cats as Cousins did to the 2010 version. Push 2010 v 2011.
SG: Bledsoe v Lamb
Of all the 2009-10 freshmen who have moved on to the next level after just one season, Bledsoe impressed me the least. His personal circumstances led him to a personal decision to move on, and I understand those reasons completely. Lamb arrives in Lexington highly regarded, just as Bledsoe did, but Lamb is more naturally suited for the SG position from the beginning than Bledsoe was. I believe Lamb will perform at an overall higher level than Bledsoe did over the course of the season. Advantage 2011.
SF: Miller v Miller
Miller as a junior will contribute more to the team than Miller did as a sophomore. Advantage 2011.
PF: Patterson v Jones
As highly regarded as Terrence Jones is, he will not bring the same level of experience, toughness, and “get it done” ability to the floor as Patterson did as a Junior. However, I believe that Jones has the potential to bring a game as a freshman to the team similar to what Patterson delivered as a freshman, and Jones will not have the entire weight of the team on his broad shoulders as a freshman that Patterson did during his freshman season. I believe that next year's team will see a drop off in output from the PF position, but it should be small. Advantage 2010.
Liggins, Jr v Liggins, So: Advantage 2011
2011 will not be as strong in its starting five, but will provide stronger, more consistent bench play.
I believe that the 2010-11 Kentucky team will begin the season top 10, and will mature and grow up as quickly as last year's team did, if not faster. The returning players have the advantage of one full season with Calipari. However, last year's team won several early games that it had all but lost, and this year's team could lose some games of that type in November and December as a price for its growth. However by the end of January, I would not be surprised to see this team as a top 5 team, making another legitimate run for a final four and national championship in 2011.
Thank you Coach Calipari for all your hard work. And, thank you Coach for bringing this program back to life for the entire BBN.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks