I loathe this time of year. Baseball is striding along with no end in site, football is nothing but anticipation and false build-up, and basketball seems as far away as Christmas. On second thought, basketball is that far away.
Around this time of year all talk about the sports world is the same facts and stats that you hear every time you turn on the television, or speak to your uncle, who is a die-hard Reds fan.
Is there no way to break the monotony? Are there no breaking news stories about the personal lives of professional athletes that can satisfy my constant urge to gossip? Once again us sports news junkies are left wanting more.
So what are we going to do about this, how will we find our remedy?
I do exactly what I always do when there is air left in a conversation, I bring up everyone’s favorite topic. The Kentucky Wildcats. Problem solved.
Talk about the Cats, at the moment, is flirting dangerously with foolish. What do you hear? Mostly a mild attempt to compare this years team with last years team. Excuse me while I walk away please. What we have upcoming is a good example of daylight and dark. Last years team was a multitude of skill and talent, this year will be six or seven key stars who will have to carry the full workload.
Last year there was so much talent and so little playing time that Cat’s fans just assumed the hot five was on the court at all times. This year will be completely different. This year Coach Cal will have to build an unbreakable structure from one key cornerstone, that cornerstone being Tyler Ulis.
Ulis will only be a sophomore this year, but should return ready, like a hardened war veteran who has been to the brink. After surviving and thriving in last years “platoon” system, Ulis will be what makes UK basketball this year. Ulis lead the team in assists last year averaging 3.6 assists a game, but most of last years baskets were scored on the defensive end of the court. Remember?
Ulis began last season taking a back seat to then sophomore Andrew Harrison as the Cat’s go to point guard. Some back and forth competition throughout the season showed us that Ulis was hungry for his shot. When Harrison hit a mild mid season slump, Ulis took hold of the opportunity.
Now 3.6 assists per game may seem like a small number for a talented point guard like Ulis, but that number earned him a third place ranking among the nation and the first place spot in the SEC as far as assists go. The big difference that will affect Ulis this year is that everything is going to be on his shoulders. He will have control over game tempo, play performance, and team motivation.
Coach Cal has assembled another solid team, he has the extremely talented Isaiah Briscoe as guard, freshly signed Canadian star Jamal Murray on the other side, veteran and all-around freak-on-a-leash Alex Poythress, who could probably jump over the rim if he tried hard enough, and new big man- down low Skal Labissiere to clean the glass. These players are extremely talented individuals, but as we know that’s not how Cal coaches.
Coach Calipari believes in idea of a team, and proved to us last year that he can wrangle any group of all-stars into precisely that, a team. Now what will make this complex machine of turning gears produce as gold is Tyler Ulis.
We may not see Ulis on Sportcenter following every game as UK strives for another year of greatness. He may finish the season with something like four points a game on average, but in all honesty that’s what will be for the best. Ulis has every opportunity this year to become college basketballs Top Passer in the Nation.
Why do I do this to myself? Here I am almost thirty and I feel like a child waiting on Christmas again.