By Drew Johnson
Unprecedented. Redefining. An embarrassment of riches. More McDonald’s All Americans than the Los Angeles Lakers. This, fellow crazy fans, is the 2014-2015 University of Kentucky basketball team.
We’ve all been hearing about this. We’ve all been talking about this. From your best buddy and your mailman, to your family and total strangers, everyone has an opinion. Kentucky’s proposed platoon system has been the buzz of college basketball since the unveiling during the summer trip to the Bahamas. So much depth. So much talent. So much size, and for the first time in The Calipari Era, so much returning experience.
Make no mistake about it, Big Blue Nation. Coach Cal is committed to this. When it comes down to it, the theory of “platooning” is fun for fans to talk about. But as those very same fans, we can’t help ourselves, especially when it concerns our dear Blue and White. We have to have an opinion, and boy oh boy, do we have to share it with the world. It’s a Bluegrass birth right. Is this a good idea or bad? Let’s break it down, shall we?
PRO: No other high-major college basketball team has used a platoon system and won a national championship. Should Kentucky win it all, what a legacy this team leaves for future generations.
CON: With so much talent at Kentucky’s disposal, is now REALLY the time to do something unprecedented? Could the platoon system be the faulty wiring in what should be great shot at hanging banner #9? Isn’t that the goal?
PRO: As Coach Cal has proclaimed time and time again, Kentucky is a “players first” program. These ten players all deserve to play. The platoon system guarantees that.
CON: The players are happy and display their skills, but does that come at the expense of winning it all? Does Aaron Harrison—he of three game winning shots on the way to last season’s national championship game—sit because his platoon is scheduled to sit?
PRO: Kentucky players leave their egos in the locker room and play the best team basketball in the country. They don’t care about their touches, their stats, and personal accolades. They are truly “their brother’s keeper,” another maxim Coach Cal lives by.
CON: No one doubts this year’s team is filled with great kids. But therein lies the problem. They are just kids. The human condition is to always, ultimately, do what is best for oneself and his loved ones. Ultimately, they do what is best for them.
PRO: Kentucky’s depth will overwhelm the opposition. The platoon system guarantees Kentucky will always have a fresh team on the court. Kentucky’s size will wear every other team down to a nub.
CON: With the platoon system, will either platoon ever get “in the flow” of the game? What happens if Platoon #1 is clicking on all cylinders, but it’s time for Platoon #2 to play? Will Platoon #1 get back “in the flow” after sitting on the bench?
PRO: Kentucky has so many good players, there won’t be another team to cause matchup problems.
CON: Again, the platoon system is set. Opposition’s weaknesses that might be better exploited by Platoon #1 is…until it’s time for Platoon #2 to check in.
PRO: Foul trouble will not be a problem.
CON: Actually, there is no con. With so much depth, foul trouble will never be a problem unless officials start blowing their whistles for breathing on each other.
PRO: When the dust settles, these pros and cons will be irrelevant. It’s all about winning. If the platoon system fires on all cylinders, the rest of college basketball might want to invest in white flags of surrender. It really is that simple. Yes, I am a proud Kentucky “homer,” but even the most hardcore Louisville and Duke fans (ugh) must admit Kentucky has the most talent in the country. If the platoon system clicks and runs the way Coach Cal envisions it, it’s game over and banner #9 will be hung in the rafters of Rupp Arena.
CON: When the dust settles, these pros and cons will be irrelevant. It’s all about winning. If the grand experiment of platooning fails, the biggest collection of talent since the 1996 Kentucky team will be all for nothing. This team is built for a national championship. Anything else will (unfortunately) be seen as a waste of extraordinary talent, size, and experience.
So…let’s win, OK?