Another weekend has come to a close and all in all, it was fairly uneventful. The worst moment for me came when I saw the dorky guy go for a kiss on “Megan Wants a Millionaire”, so all in all, you have to consider it a positive. With little in the way of news, it seems like a good time to play “Best Case/Worst Case” for the UK basketball players. Below is a review of all the players currently on the roster and a summary of what is the best year they are capable of happening, and what would be the worst scenario for their season. After each of those, I follow with a prediction as to the most likely scenario, which basically exists just so you can say I am a moron. So here we go:
Best Case: Patterson comes out as a man possessed. The combination of his summer in San Francisco and his desire to be a leader on a team that can win a title leads him to dominate on the court from the get go. As Kentucky basketball takes its place as THE college basketball story of the season, Patterson rises as the best player on that team and becomes one of the faces of college basketball. He finishes the season as a consensus First Team All American (the first since Ron Mercer) and takes his place as one of the legends to wear the uniform.
Worst Case: Patrick struggles to adapt to the Dribble-Drive Motion offense and sees his scoring output decline. Unable to adapt to handling the ball on the perimeter, he finds himself mostly on the post, and drawing double-teams that make it more difficult for him to dominate. He still provides rebounding and defense like none other, but his scoring is down and he finishes the year on the First Team All-SEC squad but doesnt make national noise.
Likely Case: Fairly close to the best case. Patrick will showcase skills that we havent seen before and he becomes the best player on one of the five best teams in college basketball. Patterson joins Wall as one of the superstars of college basketball this season and makes nearly every All-American list, on either the First or Second Team. He leads the team into the NCAA Tournament with a legitimate shot to make the Final Four.
Best Case: Wall takes college basketball by storm and becomes the Derrick Rose for the new year. As the season goes on, he not only helps Kentucky roll over its opponents, he is a constant fixture on the SportsCenter Top 10 lists and he becomes the young star of college basketball. He develops leadership instincts and takes Kentucky to the Final Four with a chance at a title.
Worst Case: Wall plays well but doesnt quite live up to the hype. His lack of an outside jumper plagues him and Kentucky’s inability to get consistent three point shooting allows teams to sag and limit his penetration. While he shows flashes of brilliance, he never completely puts it together and even finds himself on the bench occasionally at the end of games.
Likely Case: John Wall lives up to the hype. While the first half of the season shows some inconsistency, he produces the best individual plays that UK has had since Rondo and showcases the best all-around set of offensive skills in the past ten years. He plays well all year, cements himself as a Top 3 pick, leads the Cats deep in the Tournament and becomes an ambassador for UK basketball for years to come.
Best Case: Miller shows a dramatic jump in ability thanks to a new coach and new confidence. He develops a consistent outside jumper that allows him to become the third scorer on a national championship contender. He averages double figures in scoring, has some huge games and becomes “big shot Darius” at the end of games.
Worst Case: The confidence problems that showcased themselves last year have more to do with Darius than his previous lunatic coach. Miller struggles to find a rhythm on a team full of stars and drifts in and out of games. His year is good, but never great, and he is lost in the shuffle at points during the season.
Likely Case: Darius becomes a solid starter on a consistent Top 5 team in the country. His points per game fluctuate, but his offense shines in most games and becomes a great perimeter defender during his length. Along with Patterson and Wall, he becomes one of the three rocks on the team all season.
Best Case: Cousins shows immediately why he is considered a potential Top 10 pick. Showcasing athleticism and strength not seen at his size, he comes in and immediately takes a shine to Calipari’s coaching and style and is a physical force from Day One. He manhandles most opposition on offense and forces defenses to play Patterson honest, thus creating scoring opportunities for both young men. He becomes the scorer and defender that his potential suggests and his dominance helps Kentucky win Title #8.
Worst Case: All the questions about Cousins end up being true. He struggles to adapt to the college game and has difficulty playing for Calipari. His attitude causes issues and he is benched and loses a great deal of playing time to Daniel Orton. He spends much of the season unhappy, leaves after one year and is a permanent “what might have been” player in UK lore.
Likely Case: Cousins has an up and down year, with mostly ups, and by the end of the season totally hits his stride. He struggles at first to give consistent effort, but pushed by Patterson and Orton, becomes hungry and gives consistent rebounding, defense and scoring for the team. In my view, Cousins is the key to the team going from very good to great…I think they will be great, so I believe in him.
Best Case: He does what he promised and “gets s*** right.” After a great preseason, he shows the ability to do what Calipari had hoped would happen, allow him to start two point guards at the same time. He connects with John Wall, taking some of the point guard duties from Wall, allowing him to create more offensive opportunities. He develops an outside jumper and becomes the fifth starter on the best starting five in America.
Worst Case: The two point guard system doesnt work at UK or for Bledsoe. He struggles to match up with bigger guards, causing Wall to permanently play the 2 on defense, thus negating some of his defensive abilities. His three point shooting never develops and he loses his end of the game spot to Darnell Dodson because of his lack of shooting.
Likely Case: Bledsoe has a good year, that has its peaks and valleys, but showcases times of brilliance. The team is at his best when he is peaking, but he moves in and out of the lineup based on matchups and the play of others. He has some spectacular plays and sets himself up well for the two PG system not only this year, but in the future as well.
Best Case: Coming back from San Franscisco ripped, Orton becomes the revelation of the season. He shows up on campus in two weeks in the best shape of any of the non-Patterson big man and has a great pre-season. He slowly dislodges Cousins from the primary starting spot and makes Calipari find 20 minutes a game for him. He also showcases a surprising outside shot and becomes a key contributor all season.
Worst Case: Daniel becomes the odd-man out in the big man rotation. With Patrick and Demarcus starting, Orton is too inconsistent and finds himself losing time to Perry Stevenson and Josh Harrellson. His minutes go down all season and it becomes a frustrating year for the big man.
Likely Case: Daniel relishes his role as sixth man, and becomes the final piece to a potential national championship team. While he doesnt start, he plays a great deal in every game, provides offense and rebounding, while working on some of his defensive liabilities. Fans see more improvement during the year from him than any other player and he has a huge game that helps win a big NCAA Tournament contest.
Best Case: Perry reminds people that he should not be forgotten and becomes the underrated “glue” piece to a Final Four team. Stevenson plays more than anyone expected, and with his shot-blocking and length, is a perfect fit for Calipari’s defensive philosophies. His solid play forces Calipari to occasionally put Patterson at the three and Perry has a good Senior season, finally playing for a winning team.
Worst Case: Perry is lost in the shuffle of the new Calipari era. He is never able to fit into the system Calipari wants and sees his playing time wane behind Patrick, Daniel and Demarcus. He keeps his jovial spirit, but becomes the one player most hurt by the new Kentucky era.
Likely Case: Perry sees his minutes go down this year, but still contributes throughout the year. In the right matchups, Stevenson becomes a factor and has some big games in which he is a key component to wins. Some games see Perry play very little and some see him with 25 minutes, but Stevenson is always ready and gives solid time all year.
Best Case: Since the day he has arrived, Harris has been assumed out of the lineup. But for the third straight year, no one can outseat him. Because of his defensive ability and improved ball-handling, Harris contends for playing time at the 2/3 and even starts the occasional game. When the Freshmen struggle, especially early on, Harris sees lots of time and plays solid as the fifth scorer and primary perimeter defender. He plays all year and has a Final Four as he leaves UK.
Worst Case: Harris joins Stevenson as lost in the Calipari shuffle. With the development of Darius Miller and the outside shooting of Dodson and Bledsoe, Harris cannot find the court and spends most games on the bench. When he plays, he presses too hard and ultimately never becomes part of the regular UK rotation.
Likely Case: The year will be all over the place for Harris. In some big games early in the year, Calipari will go to him, because he trusts his defense in crunch time. However as the Freshmen develop, Harris sees his playing time decrease. Nevertheless, his improved offense and defensive abilities, help him see spot duty during the year and he makes one key contribution to a big game that ensures his place in the minds of UK fans forever.
Best Case: The wildcard to the season becomes the unknown superstar. Dodson comes in from Day One as a shooter unlike any other, dead-eye from the outside and the perfect fifth guy with Wall, Miller, Patterson and Cousins. He lights up game after game from outside and stays on the court, hitting big shots all year. His shooting helps UK become a National Title Contender.
Worst Case: He becomes a non-factor. Dodson has a hard time with the transition from Junior College and finds himself unable to see the court in front of Eric Bledsoe, and is passed by Jon Hood. Dodson is never able to find an outside jumper and is perpetually frustrated during the season. By the end of the year he is outside the rotation and essentially a non-factor.
Likely Case: Dodson isnt as good as we all hope, but becomes an important factor on the team because of his shooting. The hype of him being Jodie Meeks from outside ends up being false, but he is the best three point option on the team and plays in spot duty off the bench, hitting big shots in big games. He sets himself up well to play a 7th man role for his UK career.
Best Case: The widest discrepancy in terms of potential outcomes. Liggins hits his stride with the arrival of Calipari and becomes the player we thought he could be out of high school. His play skyrockets and he becomes the second PG starter opposite of John Wall. His versatility allows Calipari to play him at the three and lineups with Wall, Bledose and Liggins are seen from time to time. He is the surprise of the SEC and is yet another star on the team.
Worst Case: Liggins once again does not connect with a coach. He gets little playing time early, becomes even more frustrated and loses his confidence again. After much soul-searching, he decides that a transfer is in order at Christmas.
Likely Case: I honestly dont know. Tell many any result with Liggins and it wouldnt surprise me. I think it is more likely than not that things dont work out, but I know what I saw from him in high school, so it has to still be there. I have no real prediction and find Liggins to be the most interesting story of the season.
Best Case: Harrellson becomes a classic “niche” player that through great outside shooting, contributes to a championship team. Coming off the bench, Harrellson hits the three, thus pulling the defense away from the paint and allowing Patterson to work down low. He plays 10-15 minutes a game and provides a spark during that time.
Worst Case: He is simply forgotten. He becomes the fifth big man and sees playing time only in spot mop-up duty. He still however remains the nicest dude in the world and a great teammate to all.
Likely Case: Harrellson likely wont play a lot, but will have games where he can contribute. If shooting is a problem, which I think it will be, they will look to Jorts as a potential answer. If he is able to consistently hit the outside jumper and stay in shape, there could be playing time to be had.
Best Case: Hood shows that the forgotten member of the best recruiting class in school history should have never been overlooked. He comes in immediately and contributes outside shooting that makes him valuable on the court. By improving his defense, he forces himself into the rotation over Harris and Dodson and becomes a 12-15 minute player every game on a great team.
Worst Case: He is a year away. Stuck behind Miller, Dodson, Harris and the Freshmen point guards, there simply isnt enough playing time for Hood and he spends most of the season in an apprentice role.
Likely Case: I dont see a ton of playing time this year for Hood, but that comes with a caveat. If anyone could benefit themselves by being a money three point shooter, it would be Hood. This team will be desperate for those that can stick the three pointer and if Hood is that guy, he can play. Most likely however, I see Hood hitting the rotation in his Sophomore season.
Best Case: When the roster had 18 players, no one thought the 13th scholarship would go to Krebs over Pilgrim, Galloway, Stewart, etc. But that is how it ends up. Krebs plays only sparingly, but becomes the Cameron Mills of the 2010 Championship team. He comes in 1 out of every 2 games, hits a big shot and then celebrates as wins come. He gets his big championship moment and joins Cameron in the “we were good and now we are fat” category in ten years.
Worst Case: He checks in during the Tennessee Tech game and I am the only person who knows who he is.
Likely Case: Calipari doesnt keep players unless he thinks they can play…no matter what, as the Dwight Perry ending showcased. He kept Krebs and may now give him a scholarship. That says something to me…what it is, remains to be seen. But Mark is a great guy and I have a good feeling something positive will happen for him.
So there you go….nearly 2700 words for a Monday morning. Fodder for thought and a good beginning to the week in which we will have one good announcement on Monday and one big announcement on Wed or Thur. Stay tuned and Go Cats….