Lots of UK news in the past few days, but little coming out of the U of L camp. The buzz, unquestionably, will stay with UK in the runup to the next basketball season. It is, with the arrival of John Calipari and his subsequent recruiting exploits, a fait accompli (which of course, in French, translates to “media conspiracy.”)
Calipari on the recruiting front reminds me of Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character in the movie “Caddyshack,” when he’s blowing through the Bushwood Country Club gift shop.
He’s rolling through buying everything, “I’ll have a box of those, give me two of those, give me six of those.” Calipari’s taking it all but the naked lady tees.
But I digress.
A lot has been said and written about John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense, and it’s certainly going to provide a challenge to UK’s existing players and incoming guys.
But it also poses a new challenge for a U of L program that has prided itself on defense in recent years.
U of L, next season, will be a different type of team, and one of the intersting things to watch with the Cardinals will be which style coach Rick Pitino adopts. He’s very deep and experienced in the backcourt, with Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles all returning, and Peyton Siva coming in. Add perimeter-oriented three men like Reggie Delk (sorry, Reggie, called you Tony in the original posting) and Jared Swopshire in, and Pitino is pretty well suited to put together a dribble-drive attack of his own.
The point is, U of L will be a much smaller, quicker team next season.
If there’s been a prime weakness of U of L defenses, though, the past couple of seasons, it has been defending off the dribble.
Given that the team’s arch-rival is installing a dribble-drive based offense, if I were a motivated U of L player over the summer, I think I’d probably dedicate myself to on-ball containment defense. U of L has based its defense under Pitino on pressure and aggressive zone defense. And maybe this team will play its share of zone.
But those back-court guys are going to have to be adept at keeping people out of the lane. If UK’s dribble drive provides motivation for these guys to work on becoming better on-ball defenders in the offseason, it’ll pay off in Big East play, whatever the outcome at Rupp Arena next December.
While U of L fans may be rankled by all the attention UK is getting with the arrival of Calipari, it also affords the program a rare luxury. Expectations are pretty moderate for what should be a pretty good U of L team coming in. That can’t help but be an antidote to complacency, and perhaps a pretty big motivator before everything is said and done.