SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Basketball Wildcats Need Time To Develop & Grow


As you might know, I spent over 20 years as an educator and over 10 years in college earning my degrees in education and its many specialties. In my studies, I had to do many different types of case studies and research which required me to have sample sizes to complete the work.


In order for me to adequately and successfully complete my assignments, it was necessary for me to obtain sample sizes that were multiple and varied. In general, the larger the sample sizes, the more likely I would get adequate results to either prove or disprove my theories.

I also feel like these lessons I learned apply well to this season’s Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team.

After the Cats got drilled by No. 1 Duke 118-84 on national TV in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis to open the season, many fans and sports media types immediately wrote off the Cats as a legitimate contender for a national crown.

But as anyone who follows college basketball knows, there are no national champions crowned in November. The NCAA awards that prize early in April after a usually grueling regular season schedule, a conference tournament, and the six-game gauntlet better known as the NCAA tournament.

There is simply no way to write off these Cats this early in the season. Think about it, UK has played a grand total of three, count ‘em three games. Their opposition has been a honestly superior right now Duke squad, a veteran Southern Illinois squad that coach John Calipari called “a NCAA tournament squad," and a North Dakota squad who has 11 newcomers on their team.

If you can tell me you have a handle on this UK team, I want to take you to Cherokee Casino in the Smoky Mountains and make some money gambling.

It’s also a known fact that once again the Wildcats are young. The only upperclassmen with experience on the Cats' roster are sophomores Nick Richards, Quade Green and PJ Washington along with graduate transfer Reid Travis. The rest of the playing rotation are freshmen. Although all are insanely talented, they are still trying to figure out each other’s game, how Calipari wants them to play, and how every team they play circles their game with UK in big red Sharpie. That’s a lot to digest don’t you think?

Don’t get me wrong, there are no secrets when you sign up to play or coach at Kentucky. The lights are a little brighter, the stage a little bigger, and the pressure a little greater. The fan base expects not only success but banners hanging in Rupp Arena. Tradition and success can be a little heavy for the young Cats to carry at first. But if prior history is any indication, UK usually figures things out and plays their best basketball when the lights, stage, and pressure are at their greatest.

So don’t worry so much BBN, there’s a whole season to be played. There will be many highs and lows, ebbs and flows, and times of crazy success and maddening difficulties. We need a whole lot more research and samples on this club to truly determine its final result.

Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist located in Speedwell, Tenn. You can follow Shane on Facebook, on Twitter @shack_daddy_1, or on his website Coach Shack’s Corner at www.wixsite.com/coachshackscorner. He can also be contacted via email at coachshack50@gmail.com.


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