2010-11 Season Analytical Writings


As summer wears through the dog days of August, my thoughts invariably turn to what might be this coming winter with the UK Basketball team. However, the look ahead in August of 2010 is different than every other year since I began my writing about UK Basketball because in August 2010, the Basketball Cats will actually suit up and play three games in mid-August, before the funny ball Cats ever kick it off a single time. In August 2010, even before the UK Basketball office has announced its 2010-11 schedule, Cat fans around the world will get a rare and special glimpse at their new team, and the next season.

Without a doubt, my view ahead for the 2010-11 basketball season is tinted in beautiful shades of blue and I make no apologies for my unabashed optimism for Coach John Calipari's second team. Coach Calipair has a record of accomplishment that includes building programs at Umass and Memphis into national contenders and final four participants. In addition, Coach Calipari took a group of talented freshmen in 2009-10, blended them with the veteran experience of Patrick Patterson and ran off a 35-3 record in route to a disappointing Elite 8 loss to West Virginia last March. The reason an Elite Eight loss in a coach's first season can be disappointing is because of the overall success that this first year coach managed to achieve.

So, for the Big Blue Nation, life moves on. For the players that contributed to that 2009-10 success on the court, they have moved on. Five first round draft selections for a single college team for the first time ever: Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, and Orton. The coaches that orchestrated that 2009-10 season, they have moved on by signing and bringing in another bumper crop of freshmen and another JUCO transfer to bolster the returning players of Miller, Liggins, Hood, and Harrellson. I wrote about the roster for 20010-11 in May after it appeared that Coach Calipari had completed his 2010 recruiting class. [ : ANALYSIS OF THE 2010-11 ROSTER]. For the second year in two on the job, Coach Calipari has hauled in the nation's number 1 recruiting class.

Yes, gone are Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, Orton, and Patterson. Also gone, Darnell Dodson for unexplained reasons. That leaves the 2010-11 team with only 4 returning players: Miller, Liggins, Hood, and Harrellson. Added to the mix are freshmen Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole, Enis Kanter, Terrence Jones, and Brandon Knight, along with JUCO Eloy Vargas. That is 10 scholarship players out of an available 13 rides. Add to this mix, Polson as a preferred walk-on from Jessamine County, and the coaching staff will have 11 available bodies.

Coach Calipari completely transformed the roster over the course of his first 5 months on the job in 2009. He did this out of necessity to fill a roster with players capable of competing immediately. Few people anticipated that Coach Calipari would have to completely transform its roster again between April and August of 2010 out of a necessity to replace 5 early exits to the NBA first round draft. However, Coach Calipari has done just that. The 2010-11 roster is as different from the 2009-10 roster as the 2009-10 roster was different from the 2008-09 Gillispie roster. Just as Calipari's magic in 2009 propelled the Wildcats back into the discussion for national championships, the 2010 transformation has kept UK in that same discussion, and the expectation levels throughout the Big Blue Nation remain very high for a team that only has two returning players that saw any significant playing time in 2009-10.

So, here we are on August 9, 2010. The 2010-11 schedule is still hidden from our view, but we get to see our new team actually play on August 15, 16, and 17 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada as Calipari has taken advantage of a NCAA opportunity for international exhibition play. This international trip, more importantly, allows this young team to assemble from August 1 through August 14 for 10 days of intense practice. This practice time is the most important aspect of this late summer exhibition trip.

As thin as the 2010-11 roster is, the roster for this trip is going to be even thinner. Eloy Vargas will not be permitted to make the trip due to NCAA rules on eligibility [completed at least 3 hrs of course work at UK prior to the trip]. All the freshmen have done this during the summer, but Eloy Vargas was not able to enroll in summer classes at UK as he finished his academic requirements at his former Junior College this summer. Enis Kanter has not been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse regarding his amateur status and will not be eligible to make this trip. Finally, freshman Terrence Jones is recovering from an ankle injury, and may not be available to play, even though he will be travelling with the team.

So, Big Blue Fans everywhere, I suggest that we sit back, enjoy this early glimpse at our team. The first such opportunity occurs on Sunday night, at 7 pm EDT, followed by games on Monday night at 7 pm, and Tuesday morning at 11 am. Following the three games, and the release of the official 2010-11 schedule, I will write again about the upcoming season.

Go Big Blue!!!!

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks



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