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Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: UK Basketball


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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:

PATRICK PATTERSON

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.

JOHN WALL:

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.

DARIUS MILLER:

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.

DEMARCUS COUSINS

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.

ERIC BLEDSOE:

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.

DANIEL ORTON:

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.

PERRY STEVENSON

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.

RAMON HARRIS

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.

DARNELL DODSON:

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.

DEANDRE LIGGINS

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.

JOSH HARRELLSON:

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.

JON HOOD

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.

MARK KREBS

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….

Article written by Matt Jones

48 responses to “Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: UK Basketball”

  1. HoratioCane

    Beautiful, Matt. Good work.

  2. Chris Minton

    nice. that is one of the most useful posts ive seen on here in awhile, and it gives us some things to think about. maybe someone with some time to kill can combine some of the best/worst cases and make some cool predictions for the season

  3. jc

    Great read Matt…I really enjoyed it and I appreciate your time and effort.

  4. Hambone721

    Great piece of writing here, Matt. I loved reading every word of it.

  5. HoratioCane

    5. You’ve been whining all day. Go to bed.

  6. tshowa2

    Matt.. This is single handedly the best piece I have ever read on this site. Very well done.

  7. UKSoCalCampus

    I liked it but refuse to contribute to the tbk-esque butt-kissing going on.

  8. champ1023

    #7: You give credit where credit is due, this is a great piece or writing even if half of these comments are indeed ass kissing.

    Well done, Matt. Can’t wait for the season!

  9. AssistByJohnWall

    #5 – HoratioCane – Way to tell yourself. Now if you’d only listen.

  10. AssistByJohnWall

    To suggest that John Wall might “never completely puts it together” next year is only useful in proving that living in Louisville and attending Duke University weren’t the last of your bad decisions.

  11. zgwpn

    #10…that was part of his ‘Worst Case’ scenario. It’s called playing devils advocate buddy.

  12. uk_we_are_a_football_school

    If anyone is interested, I have a UK Football blog that is dedicated to UK Football only.

    http://www.aaronsukfootballblog.blogspot.com

    GO CATS!

  13. lextownboi

    nice post matt!! good read

  14. CalifCatFan

    Pilgrim is a beast.

  15. Will Lentz

    Good post, but I would’ve been interested in seeing a best, worst, and likely for Cal, as well.

  16. MOcatfan

    Love posts like this. As great as all the other stuff on the site is, I most enjoy reading informed opinions about on court matters that are presented as nothing more and nothing less. One thing I will say is that I feel Matt has always been a little too tough on Liggins. Obviously he had a rough go of it last year, but I think he’ll be much improved. While the “best case” scenario for him is highly unlikely, I personally would be REALLY surprised if he ends up transferring. It may take until his junior year, but I just can’t see Cal letting a player with that talent and what was perceived as a tailor made DDM skill set out of high school get away, especially considering he’s not a coach like BCG who count on the 11th-13th guys on the roster…I also think DeAndre will realize that if he ends up having to transfer somewhere else the deck will almost certainly be stacked against him in a major way in terms of even sniffing the league, letting alone sticking with a team. If I was in his position and things didn’t click right away, I’d role the dice and accept riding the pine for a little bit for a chance to be part of elite teams and potentially contributing as a junior and senior. Of course all this assumes he keeps his grades in line and his attitude positive. Anyway, great post and this is the stuff that makes me love the site.

  17. bigbluedude

    mark krebs will [play more then people think, and the guy can shoot!

  18. Mr Schwump

    Best case scenario for this year is Stevenson and Harris finally complete their eligibility.

  19. soup

    I wish ESPN would show SOMETHING about Brett Favre, Tiger, or the Sox and Yanks.

  20. TheBigBooyah

    I see that you’ve calmed your expectations for Krebs. Last year you had him as one of the keys to the season. Or at least a breakout player for 2008-09.

    We kid because we care.

  21. BIGBLUEDAVE

    22-Red Rooster
    Are you serious? I know Razor hasn’t shown much on offense, but if you watch our games…he has by far been the BEST ON BALL DEFENDER we’ve had!

  22. BIGBLUEDAVE

    wow taht was weird, there were 25 comments when i posted mine, but it went to 21 and i was replying to 22 which is now 23…

  23. Assassin Number 2

    #23 it is funny how you get on people for kissing Matt’s ass while you have Walls #### in your mouth. Just saying.

  24. Assassin Number 2

    um somehow i guess i was refering to #24, not sure how that happened.

  25. Assassin Number 2

    Matts server is like back to the future.

  26. Assassin Number 2

    to the guy that posted after me….

  27. Thomas Beisner

    I think this best sums up what’s going on with the comments today.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocV5bGHdYag

  28. UKSoCalCampus

    28- Really? Trying to inject more politics into the site?

  29. catlanta91

    Great post. What this really speaks to is the mystery surrounding players like DeAndre, Perry, Josh and Ramon and especially Darius, given the mind games inflicted upon them by BCG. In many ways the best case/worst case theorizing is most intriguing with the returning players. Nice job matt.

  30. UKSoCalCampus

    28- apparently was at 29.. what the…

  31. UKSoCalCampus

    Nevermind… server time is all messed up

  32. MIDDAY

    Best case – UK wins NCAA easily.

    Worst case – UK plays a close game or two in the Final 4 but still wins NCAA.

    Hey, I’m just being a realist.

  33. claw

    Gotta get me one of those crystal balls like Matt has. Just having one of those Magic 8 balls isn’t cutting it.

  34. MIDDAY

    Best Case – UK wins NCAA easily.
    Worst Case – UK plays a couple of close games in the Final 4, but still wins NCAA.

    Hey, I’m just being a realist.

  35. TOMPAV83

    Perry Stevenson WILL BE the surprise of the season

  36. MIDDAY

    I hate the term “Lead Guard.” It reminds me of Gillispie.

  37. AssistByJohnWall

    #11 – zgwpn – Hey Good Buddy! I see you also feel it’s possible, even in a worst case scenario that John Wall could possibly “never completely puts it together”.

    Is it your fondness for lathering Matt’s taint or your complete inablity to see clearly that we should remember you by?

    Sure I’m a biased UK fan. Sure John Wall just graduated from High School. There are some people who are blessed. It’s very rare and those who are extremely blessed are even more rare still.

    This kid is THE GREATEST TALENT lead guard in 106 years of UK Basketball. It’s not a hype situation. He is completely legit, has proven it against professionals, and is a reflection of the pure essence of all that has seen the light.

    Tell us Megan Fox might “never completely puts it together” on her next magazine shoot. Then inform us it’s possible.

    It’s like saying there was a best case scenario for Michael Porter as a basketball player at UK.

    I’d like to see Matt write a Best Case / Worst Case on Barack Obama as President without blaming anyone else. Let’s see it.

  38. tbd4567

    Loved the review Matt. I join the minions that wish Ramon had just taken a medical red shirt for his head injuries and finished his eligibility in the classroom. His sole usefulness to U.K. is as a scout team defender for Wall, Bledsoe and Hood to practice against. Same for Perry S, Harrellson, Krebs, and Liggins. Kentucky has never had this much talent on the floor. Ever!!! (been watching since 60. Even as freshmen, they should exceed the results of the Oden season at OSU.

    There may be some let down in the Freshman work ethic early and problems deciding what player to throw the ball to. In the end, they are each talented enough to finish the play, make the defensive rebound, or block/stop the shot before them. If they are wise enough to know when to get rid of the ball and what position to move to when the ball needs to be released, they will be unstoppable. Wall, Bledsoe, Orton, Patrick and Cousins all appear to have this knack and have used it against pros and semi pros with success.

    The only game on the schedule I think they may lose is the first one against UNC. I dare say if there is a second such game at the end of the year the freshmen will bring it in Tsunami fashion. The Tar Heels will know what a shipwreck is all about.

  39. Red Rooster

    Great article.

    BUT..

    Can we please put to bed the Ramon Harris defense myth? He was not and will never be a defensive stopper for Kentucky.

  40. Yesterdays

    #19. Agreed.

    The more Ramon we have this year means less overall success. His junior varsity jumper and limp-wristed passing will mean that Dodson and Hood arent capable AT ALL. His presence will let teams sag or play a pack it in zone. You just cant have a guy on the wing who cant shoot and has a poor handle play with Bledsoe and Wall.

  41. greenwell

    Good post Matt, although I disagree that Harris is a good defender. He reminds me a lot of a former UL player Boo Brewer without a good jumper.

    Yesterday, we were discussing the over/under for wins this year and I said 32. We could play more than 40 games. I did not look at the numer of games on the schedule though.

  42. Indycatfan

    I look back and think of Liggins last year, and I swear the piss poor excuse we had for a coach could’ve taken the confidence out of Michiel Phelps at the Olympics, much less a kid who was just trying to find his niche in the college game. I don’t have a clue to what DeAndre is thinking, but Cal recruited him hard at Memphis and BCG destroyed his confidence, so I know Cal thought something was there…My predictions for the Cats this year is 36-3…We go up on UNC my 8 games this year on the race to 2000 wins…..Go CATS….Good article Matt and you’re right it does give us something to think about…..Now give us your thought on this years Football team

  43. messenger

    This probably hasn’t been emphasized enough, but the two vulnerabilities of this team will be its overall inexperience and its scoring ability from the perimeter. The basic vulnerabilty of the DDMO is that opponents can clog the lanes with “match-up” and zone tactics until UK shoots them out of those trick defenses. This is the importance of perimeter scoring. It’s why Meeks will be missed. And in games against ranked opponents, I think it will take more than just Dodson, Hood, and Miller to overcome this vulnerability.

    Most of the Cats will play similarly to the “likely case” scenarios above. Pat Patterson may indeed struggle to adapt to the DDMO if Coach Calipari plays him at “4” in mismatched scenarios, but I don’t think we will see a lot of that since Calipari knows Pat is one of the SEC’s two best “5s”.

    Compared to expectations, the overachievers on this basketball team will be Darius Miller, Deandre Liggins, John Wall, Jon Hood, possibly Eric Bledsoe, and possibly Daniel Orton. Miller is a better player than he showed last year, and the international play in the offseason has matured his game. Liggins has to play because Calipari only has four guards. Expectations for Liggins are low, and this is a much better system for him than Gillispie’s was.

    I don’t know if it’s possible for Wall to “overachieve” given the sky-high expectations, but in reality I think Wall is such a good fit athletically for the DDMO that he’s going to look great almost every time out. Who can defend Wall? Nobody.

    If there’s one guy who may underwhelm initially, it’s Cousins. DeMarcus has a lot of tools, but he is rawer that a lot of people seem to think and he will be vulnerable to foul trouble early in his career.

    The two guys who will get lost in this program are Ramon Harris and particularly Josh Harrellson. And let’s clarify one thing. We don’t want our third string center standing on the perimeter waiting for his three point look. If Harrellson is shooting threes, this team is either 25 points ahead or else in a lot of trouble.

  44. zgwpn

    AssistByJohnWall – ….huh? READ my friend, Ill say it AGAIN, its called playing devils advocate.

    Devils advocate – “In common parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who takes a position he or she DISAGREES WITH for the sake of argument. This process can be used to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure.”

    I understand you hard-on for trolling an argument surpasses even that of your hard-on for John Wall, but try reading what people say before typing out a nonsensical rebuttal. FAIL.

  45. AssistByJohnWall

    #44 – zgwpn – Again, you point out your need to hang onto the concept that all people have the same scope of possible outcomes in positive and negative reflection.

    You can attempt to apply a devils advocate perspective on John Wall, however if your are truely honest with reality (that is if you can see reality for what it is and not some predefined shape that you cookie cutter apply to everyone based on your past observations) then you will see John Wall’s is exempt in the exercise.

    There is no worst case scenario. He doesn’t identify himself with the ego, therefore he is not restricted to the possibilities of the imperfection of the human condition. The universe is aligned within him.

    It is unfortunate that you are unable to see this through your mental fog.

    BTW, You should quit thinking about my hard on.

  46. zgwpn

    Ohhh, you’re being theoretically abstract, i get it now :) Seeing as logic is not of concern for you, I’ll bow out of this potential nerd fight. Congratz, you’ve won…nothing. But I have to give you props for this:

    “He doesn’t identify himself with the ego, therefore he is not restricted to the possibilities of the imperfection of the human condition. The universe is aligned within him”

    Thats just golden, Im going to start using that :-P Masterful job of trolling.

  47. AssistByJohnWall

    #46 – zgwpn – A win or a loss was never my motivation. Also, don’t use that, consider it.

  48. drmarc

    Nice post Matt.