IRA COMBS: Jayhawks First True Test for Coach Cal's Platoon System; Mark Stoops Has One More Try for
By Ira D. Combs Tri State Sports Media Service Inc. Now that the opening weekend of the 2014-15 college basketball season is behind us, UK sets at 2-0 with one lopsided win over Grand Canyon 85-45 and one win of the struggling variety against a very experienced Buffalo team 72-51 that played with great basketball savvy the first half where it held a five-point lead on the Cats at half time. However, at the end of the weekend, Cal’s Platoon System passed its first official test. Now we move on to its first true Top 25 test against No. 5 Kansas in Chicago at the United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls, on Tuesday night at approximately (9:15 EST on ESPN). A few of the talk shows, Internet, and social media faithful seemed to get under Cal’s skin as he works his way throught his post-game media responsibilities after the Buffalo game. He mentioned on several occasions that if BBN was thinking all 10 players in the “Big Blue Platoon” system were expected to play at 100 percent capacity every game out, they would be sorely disappointed and that type talk was just as damaging pressure-wise as last year's 40-0 talk was. Actually, in my opinion, that’s the beauty of this system. It provides multiple opportunities game in and game out for all players involved to have an off night and let someone else take up the slack without losing their spot in the rotation and/or platoon. No system and no college program is going to have a full proof mistake-free roster of players. That's just unrealistic to expect. But as we’ve all grown to understand over the years Kentucky basketball has its fair share of unrealistic fan expectations just like Alabama and Notre Dame football does, maybe even more. Three freshman lead UK in scoring in their second game against Buffalo. Tyler Ulius and Trey Lyles lead the Cats with 12 each and Devin Booker followed them with 10 points as well. All three came off the bench playing for the 2nd unit platoon system that usually enters the game around the 16-minute mark but also usually starts the 2nd half as well in the game substitution rotation. After the midweek nationally-televised battle with Kansas, UK returns to Rupp Arena this coming weekend for another Friday-Sunday set up against Boston University (Friday, 7:00 p.m., Fox Sports Net) and then hop over Saturday to play Montana State (Sunday, 6:00 p.m, SEC TV Network). Stoops And Gridiron Cats Lick Their Wounds For Two Weeks Before Season Finale After losing their last five games in a row and being outscored 113-47 the last two weekends to Georgia and Tennessee, Mark Stoops and his battle-weary Wildcats will be able to lick their wounds over the next two weeks with an open date this coming Saturday before the regular season finale against in-state rival Louisville at Papa Johns Stadium down in the river city on Thanksgiving weekend. A lot can be said about “The Streak” which now stands at five as we drift throught the last open date for the season. The first half of season offered up several scenarios of home games where the opponent was of similar skill level as Cats or on some occasions even less skilled. The bottom line is the roster presently only provides approximately 15 to 20 SEC-caliber players that can get on the field and most of those are freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or unseasoned sophomores. The remainder of the scholarship players on the roster is made up of redshirts not ready for competition and holdovers from the Joker Phillips era who simply don’t have either the size, athleticism, or foot speed to compete in the SEC, especially against the Super Six upper division SEC teams. The 2-0 start followed up by strong performances against overrated Florida and South Carolina teams plus a unique offensive performance by Patrick Towles against Mississippi State sent a classic case of “Fools Gold” across BBN. In all reality, it wasn’t fair or realistic to expect the players and/or coaches to perform the second half the way they did the first half. The best thing that can happen to UK football, in my opinion, is to get the 2014 season behind them ASAP and trim the last bit of dead wood from the roster of the Joker Phillips era and move on to preparing for 2015 where UK will have eight home games and another incoming class of recruits to start the development process. Keep in mind building college football programs, especially in the SEC, is a process that takes time and patience. Two wins in Year One, five wins in Year Two, then you can expect some semblance of a bowl eligible-type team in Year Three. You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball. You can also follow us on our new Twitter account: @combsbrothers5.