After a devastating loss last night to the Florida Gators, there was an even bigger loss to the team as a whole, the loss of their on court leader.
Nerlens Noel might not have been a vocal leader, but he did his leading on the court and presented everyone on the team the correct way to play the game of basketball.
Now it seems that this team could get lost in the shuffle after losing its best player.
As I was reading through quotes of one of the great basketball minds of our time, former Kentucky Wildcat Pat Riley, many of them were fitting to what John Calipari’s team has and will face the rest of the season.
“When you’re playing against a stacked deck, compete even harder. Show the world how much you’ll fight for the winner’s circle. If you do, someday the cellophane will crackle off a fresh pack, one that belongs to you, and the cards will be stacked in your favor.”
The youth of this team felt like a stacked deck for the experienced teams Kentucky has faced, but now it looks like they are looking at four aces to a pair deuces. The Wildcats will have to compete harder, and together.
“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, its ready to climb.”
After last night’s loss, it is hard to believe this team could climb to where they need to be by the SEC Tournament. Unselfish trust is what John Calipari has been preaching all season and if Archie Goodwin particularly will buy in so to speak, it could make the difference come March.
“There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.”
It is time for every guy on the Kentucky roster to buy in to this team. After the loss of Nerlens Noel not one player can be doing his own thing.
There are universal truths of defensive basketball. If a guy is open, guard him. Don’t leave him standing in the corner or out on the three-point line.
That one is self-explanatory.
Being ready isn’t enough; you have to be prepared for a promotion or any other significant change.
Willie Cauley-Stein is now expected to jump into the paint on a full-time basis now that Nerlens Noel is out, but is he prepared for what is to come? I believe Cauley-Stein has been right there with Noel in the motor department, just for shorter periods of time. Saturday will be a crash course in low post battles as Kentucky plays the reigning SEC player of the week Jarnell Stokes and Tennessee.
“Giving yourself permission to lose guarantees a loss.”
John Calipari has been teaching life lessons to try and get his squad to learn the value of their team and play less like individuals on the court. If this team doesn’t continue to grow together, even more now, then it could be a short trip down the Road to the Final Four.
The test begins Saturday without Nerlens Noel and Archie, Alex, Ryan, Willie, Kyle, Julius and Jarrod have a tall order ahead of them.
This season could either be summed up by this:
A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.
There’s no such thing as coulda, shoulda, or woulda. If you shoulda and coulda, you woulda done it