Kentucky men’s basketball has suffered two disappointing losses in just five games in the 2022-23 season. After everything that’s happened to the program over the past two years, patience isn’t a trait the Big Blue Nation is willing to accept right now — and with good reason. What happened to Kentucky in last week’s losses to Michigan State and Gonzaga was admittedly worrying; Offensive execution and a simple will to win reached a low point of the season.
But at the same time you can still see the vision that head coach John Calipari has for this group. Britain had beaten Michigan State in both regulation and overtime before defensive misunderstandings cost them a win. A poorly timed fourth foul on Oscar Tshiebwe In the second half of a four-point game against Gonzaga, the Bulldogs looked wild from there.
A free throw made here, a whistle not blown there, and Kentucky could very well be 5-0 or at least 4-1 this season. That’s not how this game works though – Great Britain is currently 3-2 and there are still many strong teams on the schedule. But that’s a positive side: With more competition, there’s more time to learn from mistakes.
Credit has to be given to Calipari for having proven in the past that his teams can play their best basketball in March. But he won’t take the same advantage of the doubt this time as he did before.
“This stuff is all fixable. It’s all fixableCalipari said Monday night during his first weekly radio call-in show of the season. “We have a good team. I wouldn’t trade them for anyone. I like these guys. I think they are selfless, although they look like they held the ball and played a lot of one-on-ones. They are not a selfish team. They’re not built that way.
“We only have work to do. There are things I need to do to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. We have a tough schedule and it’s perfect for us. Let’s study.”
The good news, if that’s what you’ve been looking for, is that he’s 100 percent right: all the problems of Kentucky are fixable. Chemistry can grow, players can show more combat, they can walk across screens when defending elite shooters, half-field execution can improve, and open shots can occur. Everyone is healthy and training together, which Calipari strongly believes is the main reason this season hasn’t gone as planned.
That doesn’t say everything will fixed, but UK’s problems are certainly not due to a lack of talent and versatility. Sometimes it’s so easy that shots don’t fall.
As KSR’s Brandon Ramsey pointed out in his latest issue of Watch The Tape, Kentucky got a great look midway through the second half on Sunday with a pair of 3-pointers that would have cut Gonzaga’s lead to just three for the first time since 3-0 in the first 60 seconds. Instead, none of the shots were fired, and the Bulldogs edged Britain by 10 points the rest of the way. It’s hard to talk in “what if” rounds, but a three-point game would have continued to tip the momentum in Kentucky’s favor.
The issues are definitely fixable, but how long will it take Calipari to make it with more popping up in each game?