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Key Problems Reveal After Kentucky's Second True Test

(Image via FanSided)

This was one of the most direct and no sugar-coating worthy of a press conferences I've ever sat through. Just moments after the loss, John Calipari was bluntly pointing out his team's flaws, one of his player says his team (and himself included) wasn't able to rise to the occasion, and another player says they don't run most of the plays they get asked to run. While that seems like a lot, which it is, I believe the worst part is that there just doesn't seem to be a clear answer to fixing these things in a hurry. Just five games into the season, it seems like pieces of the sky are starting to fall.

During the postgame press conference, John Calipari got straight to the point and said what he needed to say. Starting off missing 19 of their first 23 shots, and ending the first half shooting a measly 25%, it was clear the team's shooting was the pinpointed weakness tonight, and he didn't try hiding from that. "Well, we missed every shot. So you can say what you want. We missed every shot," was his very first sentence to start it off.

He continued by saying that he had to switch the entire scheme at halftime, hoping for a different outcome. "Offensively in the first half it was so embarrassing that we couldn't even run a play. Couldn't run a play. Not one. And it wasn't just Oscar. It was our guards too." When he hit that point, I knew that some problems were bigger than many of us might've realized. The fact that our players, who have been playing basketball against competition other than themselves since last August, for some reason can't execute a play together? What is that? How is that the case? It might be, but that's completely unacceptable if so.

Jacob Toppin doubled-down in his postgame questions by saying the same thing. When asked a question along the lines of how he and his teammates were able to look like they didn't put up much of a fight on the road at No. 2 ranked Gonzaga. His response was, “If you want the honest answer (long pause) … um … it’s a long season. I don’t want to speak for any guys, but in some moments, guys can’t step up,” wrote by Kyle Tucker in a Tweet. If our players can't run an offense after being extremely deep in every position while on top of that them having played together since last June, we might need to revert a little bit and re-project the destination of this team. If guys "can't step up" or our players aren't going out to take what's in reach for them, then I don't know what to tell you, man. That's a bigger issue and I hope in reality, this quote just had a little frustration behind it and isn't fully the base of all of this.

Taking this thing into a slightly different direction but still relevant, during the postgame player interviews, Oscar Tshiebwe was asked why this team doesn't seem to be able to play up to quality competition when presented the opportunity, and he said, "Most of the time we don’t really run what Coach is asking us to do." When that's the case, you could understand how getting points on the board quickly to match your competition might not be that easy. After knowing Oscar's personality, that was in no way a shot at his coach. They actually have a great relationship and Oscar will be one of his personal favorites to have come through here when it's all said and done, but the fact that the players don't run the plays their head coach throws at them is a really big deal. Not on Oscar, not on any individual player, but that's something that has got to get worked out or the offense is going to be garbage. Are the plays just not beneficial to the players to success? I know we hear players who have left the program say that Cal often held them back when they were here, so I'm wondering if that is what's going on here? I doubt we will ever really know. But, I know one thing, it's that we can't have the five on the floor not in sync with the coach. That's a recipe for disaster.

John Calipari ended his postgame press conference by saying that he doesn't believe it wasn't that his team "wasn't ready" for the matchup tonight, which contradicts everything said before in this article, but that it was mainly because they just got outplayed and exposed. "It wasn't that we weren't ready. They imposed their will on us instead of the other way around. It wasn't that they weren't ready."

After the players not stepping up and the plays not being ran, it was a meltdown offensively and with the way it resulted in tonight, Calipari said he believes the "dribble drive may be the best way for us to play" going forward.

Man, I really hate the way that things have turned for the worse, so fast. I guess in better terms, how crappy of a start it has been. This is a really good team that's very deep on the bench, and I still believe that. It's just when we aren't going out on the court and backing that up, it's very frustrating. The other half of me is remembering that it's mid-November and things can often appear to be way worse than what they really are, and I'm trying to find my balance in that.

It's okay to have some early season struggles, but letting them simmer on throughout the season is another thing, so we need to address them this week and figure out the best fix for them.



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