Holy bluegrass, could Kentucky’s latest one-and-dones face a none-and-done in the NCAA Tournament?

LEXINGTON — Over the past nine seasons, a few of the certainties in life were death, taxes and John Calipari fielding a fearsome Kentucky basketball team come NCAA Tournament time. Calipari’s first eight seasons in Lexington yielded four Final Four appearances and another pair of Elite Eight exits for Kentucky.

Admittedly, there was no single blueprint for UK, aside from a constant reliance on one-and-done talent from the top of each year’s recruiting classes. Some years, the Wildcats were a season-long juggernaut, like 2012, when Anthony Davis led the team to the school’s eighth NCAA title, or 2015, when the Wildcats reached the Final Four with an undefeated record only to have their hopes dashed by the Wisconsin Badgers.

Others were uphill stumbles toward what eventually became solid basketball, like 2011 when Kentucky lost nine games and barely escaped a first-round NCAA upset bid from Princeton before going to the Final Four, or 2014, when UK lost 11 games and looked near hopeless before gelling late and running all the way to the NCAA Championship Game.

There have been down years — 2013, for instance, when UK lost big-man Nerlens Noel to injury and floundered to the NIT, or 2016, when a backcourt of Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray received no front-court help on the way to a second-round NCAA exist.

But holy bluegrass, what is going on in 2018?

Much of the blame has to go back to Calipari, who notes his team’s youth so frequently that if a Lexington drinking game were improvised around his repetition of the phrase, much of Big Blue Nation would have developed alcohol poisoning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *