Somehow college basketball made it through another week; which means another week for my college basketball diary. The full steam ahead model gave us a college football season, and now college basketball is choosing to do the same.
Nonetheless, this journal isn’t for another scathing review over the travesty this college basketball season is; I did that last week. In this college basketball diary, I take a look at the issue of team continuity.
Instead, I want to talk about what is going on with Kentucky.
The typical one-and-done factory seems to be shutting down. Head coach John Calipari is in for his worst season in recent memory, and Kentucky fans everywhere have given up on this team.
I was texting a friend about the difficulties this program has gone through, and all he could say was, “this team is broken, and Calipari can’t fix it.” And honestly, I agree. Kentucky, as it stands now, is so far from what it could be. Especially with how talented this team is individually.
The team sits at a .167 win percentage and has dropped games to Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Notre Dame recently. It’s the worst start in 100 years for the program. With one game postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, this Kentucky team is muddled with drama and lacks the commitment to play at a high level on both ends of the floor. It’s ugly, and there is no way around that.
Recently, Calipari suspended freshman Cam Fletcher due to a meltdown on the bench after only recording two minutes in Kentucky’s matchup against North Carolina.
We have asked Cam Fletcher to take some time and step away from the team. He needs to reflect and do some soul searching to get his priorities in order. Any attitude or actions that are detrimental to this team will not be tolerated – and that goes for everyone on the team.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 21, 2020
Calipari would go on to tweet about the culture Kentucky has built over the years and how Fletcher’s attitude didn’t necessarily fit that recently.
We have a culture here that’s been built over the last 11 years AND IT WILL NOT CHANGE. Through good times and bad, this culture is meant to change individuals and change maturity levels. This hurts our team, but this is about Cam and his future.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 21, 2020
Fletcher’s actions hurt the team, but this is more of an indictment on Calipari than anything else. He failed to instill a winning culture with his newest members on the team. He created the storm, and now he seems to be shifting the blame.
Calipari references culture, yet what culture is established when players leave every year for the draft? How can an organization continue to succeed at such a high turnover rate? Effectively, Kentucky gets a new team every year.
Fletcher’s response to the situation was one of maturity. For someone who Calipari labeled as a culture sinker, he saw where he was wrong and chose to live with the repercussions. He takes responsibility, and in today’s sports world, that action is rare.
So I commend the young player; he seems to be in a better place. Hopefully, things will eventually work out for him at Kentucky. But if not, he is too talented not to play elsewhere.
LOVE BBN 💙 pic.twitter.com/udaLo0Cygf
— 21 (@CamRonFletcher1) December 20, 2020
Kentucky is a mess, but so is college basketball. I guess, this year, everyone gets a pass. Let’s get into some of the last week’s top matchups.
Important Matchups From Last Week
(5) Kansas vs. (14) Texas Tech: Dec. 17.
Texas Tech is building something special. And though they may have lost to Kansas 58-57, that doesn’t take away from the effort this team plays with nightly.
The game featured three 20-point scorers and came down to the last 13 seconds. It also doubled as Kansas’ 30th straight league opener win. It had a bit of everything, giving fans exactly what they tuned in for.
(1) Gonzaga vs. (3) Iowa: Dec. 19.
Gonzaga, without a doubt, is the best team in the country. This game proved just that. The Bulldogs were never in real jeopardy of losing in this 99-88 win. Instead, they controlled the pace from start to finish.
This season is special for Gonzaga. It’s just a shame that it has to happen in a year with so many asterisks surrounding it. Regardless, there’s a special team in Spokane, Washington, and this year might just be theirs.
(3) Kansas vs. (7) West Virginia: Dec. 22.
Kansas again looked great in its 79-65 win over a very good West Virginia team. All five starters for Kansas scored in double figures, showcasing the depth of skill the starting five possesses.
Upsets and Missteps
The week’s biggest upset came when Michigan State dropped a win to an unranked Northwestern team. The game seemed to slip away from Michigan State, and the team never regained the momentum it lost. Seeing how Michigan State bounces back will provide an interesting look as to where exactly the team stands in the top 25.
The Latest Top 25
Last Notes Heading Into Next Week
Teams are taking steps toward conference play. That means games will only get tighter from this point on.
In a year where everything is weird, naming a conference champion will be some semblance of normal going forward. What a year this college basketball season has been already, and we are only a quarter of the way through.
I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.