Right now we may be the worst rebounding team playing basketball today – that has to change. And, as was the case last year, we have some awful "freshmen habits" that need to be changed, some that have be to eliminated and others that have to be added.
He could be lowering expectations because he feels that way or it could be he is trying to tone down the confidence of a talented class or an over-exuberant fan base. Frankly, it could be a combination of both. Calipari continued:
Where we stand right now with toughness and rebounding, we probably need to struggle early because only a crisis brings about change. I hate to lose – you all know I hate to lose – but at times it's necessary for a team like this to take its knocks early in order to get them to realize the importance of rebounding and defense.
Coach Cal then plants the seed that the Cats will face a tougher schedule and he's not wrong:
Now, there is one thing in the way that I threw out in front of these young men as an obstacle and it's called "The Schedule" – the toughest non conference schedule in the country and a conference schedule that will see us, in my opinion, face four NCAA tournament teams twice each, along with another NCAA tournament team or two once each. All that while being possibly the youngest team in the country!
This team will most certainly be successful but the level of success may depend on the eligibility of one Enes Kanter, which Coach Cal addressed on ESPNU yesterday in what could be regarded as cautious optimism:
I love what the NCAA did with Dee Bost (Mississippi State). Dee Bost decided to put his name in the NBA Draft; stayed in the Draft – meaning he was then a professional and could not come back and be an amateur. Yet, they looked at it and said, wait a minute, common sense says, we're going to let him play, sit him out some games and let him play.
So I think, at the end of the day, the NCAA has been fair. They've been more than fair. They're going to make this decision and we want it to be right because it's going to affect all foreign players in a similar situation from here on in.
With or without Kanter, the Kentucky Wildcats will put a strong team on the floor. The prevailing thinking is that this year's freshman class may be a slight notch below the incoming class from last year and certainly the Cats do not return a veteran at the Patrick Patterson level.
But the young Wildcats could surprise a lot of people, particularly if Kanter is allowed to play most of the season. The strong schedule could be the very best thing to provide the seasoning needed to take on the SEC, a league that may be overall a little tougher than last season.