VAUGHT: Calipari previews team, Part 1 of 2

At this time a year ago, Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted he was not sure how good his team could be because he had to incorporate talented newcomers with a veteran returning cast.

Kentucky went on to go 35-3, reached the Elite Eight, was ranked No. 1 during the season and had five players picked in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Calipari is about to begin his second season at Kentucky and he again has a talented recruiting class to build around. However, unlike last year when the Cats returned three starters — Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris — the only returning starter this season is junior Darius Miller.

So what will happen this year?

"The biggest thing is we are not playing against last year's team. We are playing against ourselves. How good can we be? I want them to think about winning every game," said Calipari. "The only way you do that is create a swagger through hard work, but I also want them to understand we are not worried about last year. Last year is done.

"The question is how good can this team be. Every kid I recruit, I tell the same. I just need you to be who you are. Outside of Kentucky, they know there is no way they (Kentucky) can be as good as they were a year ago. They just lost too much. In Kentucky, they are going to be better."

Of course, Calipari only adds to the "they are going to be better" feeling in Kentucky with the success he's had at Massachusetts, Memphis and now Kentucky. He again has the nation's No. 1 recruiting class even if star recruit Enes Kanter remains in NCAA eligibility limbo because of a claim by his former Turkish club team that he received a salary — a NCAA no-no.

Still, the biggest story line for Kentucky going into this season is how will freshmen Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole and Kanter along with junior college transfer Eloy Vargas measure up to last year's freshman class of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and Jon Hood?

"They won't. You might as well write that right now. They can't. It's not possible," Calipari said. "You are talking about something that had never been done in the history of our sport with five drafted in first round and four after one year. I am going to tell you right now, if it ever happens again I will be stunned. If it does happen, it will happen here. But I can't see it happening again.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this two-part series as head coach John Calipari tells Larry Vaught what he forsees for this year's team.

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