LEXINGTON, Ky. — It was all going so well for Kentucky basketball on Monday night against Troy. The Wildcats led by 21 early in the second half … and then it got ugly. Turnovers, bad shots and poor defense helped the visitors roar back at Rupp Arena, get within eight and make John Calipari go berserk on the sideline.
Five games into the 2017-18 season, it’s clear that this is one of the biggest coaching challenges — only 2012-13 compares — Calipari has faced at Kentucky. He’s starting five freshmen, and it looks like it. Host Curtis Burch and beat writer Kyle Tucker hung around into the wee hours at Rupp Arena to record the latest episode of Wildcat Country, your daily UK podcast presented by SEC Country. Their postgame conversation included:
- Are fans experiencing one-and-done fatigue? It was another less-than-packed house and many people left early, even as Troy was making a run. We’ve heard from several fans who’ve grown weary of watching young teams — with players they hardly know — start from scratch and struggle through the early months of the season.
- After Kyle ranted about Sacha Killeya-Jones deserving to start over Nick Richards, Richards (after getting in early foul trouble again) did bounce back and have a strong second half, finishing with 8 points and 8 boards. But maybe it’s Wenyen Gabriel (12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) who is really getting the snub, sitting the bench behind PJ Washington. What’s up with Washington?
- Camp Cal can’t come soon enough. The Wildcats have just a day off between games before hosting Fort Wayne in what will be their sixth game in 13 days. Not a lot of practice and teaching time in that schedule, which Calipari keeps bringing up. But soon they players will be on holiday break between semesters and that means long gaps between games and no limits on practice time. Calipari’s boot camp will be vital for a young team that looks lost a lot of the time.
Don’t miss any of our Cats coverage. Follow podcast host @CurtisBurch as well as @KyleTucker_SEC for hoops and football columns, @Joe_Mussatto for football team coverage, recruiting notes and UK-in-the-NBA rundowns.