I am cannon balling into some dangerous waters here, Big Blue Nation. I don’t have a snorkel. All I have are water wings, a nose plug, an old swim cap, and an awful pair of Speedos.
One man’s opinion on which Kentucky teams have been best during the John Calipari era is another man’s death wish. Our passion and love for all things Kentucky basketball runs deep, and with that same passion comes strong opinions not easily dissuaded. But when you take a step back and look at what Coach Cal has accomplished in his almost six seasons in Lexington, my inner little instigator screams to light the match, start the fire, and walk away. The debate geek in me knows there’s nothing better than a little debate to spice up what could be the most historic season in Kentucky basketball history.
This is how one man sees it. That one man, of course, being me. In descending order, and yes, I had to look that up.
6) 2012-2013 team
This was the “one-and-done” dream turned into a Freddy Kruger nightmare. It’s never acceptable for any Kentucky team to end up in the NIT. Ever. Despite the flashes of brilliance from Nerlens Noel, most of this season is forgettable. Noel, Archie Goodwin, Kyle Wiltjer, Ryan Harrow, Alex Poythress, and a young Willie Cauley-Stein never gelled. It was painful to watch. Kentucky’s most consistent player was a last second transfer from Xavier named Julius Mays.
5) 2010-2011 team
Case in point, BBN. THIS TEAM MADE THE FREAKIN’ FINAL FOUR. Brandon Knight was stone cold clutch, the legend of Josh Harrelson and his fashion sense blossomed (JORTS!), Deandre Liggins transformed into a defensive monster, Darius Miller started getting his swag on, and Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb showed the country why they were McDonald’s All-Americans. Of all Coach Cal’s teams, this one peaked at the absolute right time. Don’t forget they knocked off #1 Ohio State and #2 North Carolina on the way.
4) 2013-2014 team
THIS TEAM MADE THE FREAKIN’ NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Lauded by recruitniks and analysts, the greatest recruiting class in history certainly didn’t achieve the unbelievable hype placed on it for most of the season. There was Harrison Twin venom, general befuddlement, and more anxiousness than the time Santa brought me a Nintendo with “Legend of Zelda”. Was this team EVER going to put it all together? They answered the bell for March Madness. Aaron Harrison became the most clutch player in UK history with three—three!—game winning shots. His brother Andrew got his famous “tweak” on. Everybody from Julius Randle to Marcus Lee to Alex Poythress came up big on the path to the title game.
3) THIS YEAR’S TEAM
I am a human broken record for the rest of this article. THIS TEAM HAS A LEGITIMATE CHANCE OF GOING UNDEFEATED. However, tournament time hasn’t started. Obviously, if they run the table and cut down the nets in Indianapolis, I’ll be the first to revisit this list of mine. For all the defensive greatness this team has, there are times where the offense struggles. The depth is unquestioned, as is the talent and the size, but my only picky gripe is the lack of a superstar that can take over. Can a committee of nine become the first team since 1976 to go undefeated? Yes. But the season isn’t over yet.
2) 2009-2010 team
John Wall, NBA All-Star. Demarcus Cousins, NBA All-Star. Eric Bledsoe, future NBA All-Star. Patrick Patterson, lighting it up for the Toronto Raptors. Daniel Orton, NBA journeyman. Deandre Liggins, Josh Harrelson, and Darius Miller were just role players on that squad. It took a perfect storm for West Virginia to pull that upset and deny Kentucky; the Mountaineers played out of their minds and our Wildcats went colder than “Frozen”. That game still wakes me up in the middle of the night.
1) 2011-2012 team
They won it all. In my humble opinion, Anthony Davis is the best player to ever lace them up for Kentucky. He was dominant in every facet of the game. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the best transition player I’ve ever seen and was the defensive stopper. Doron Lamb was lights out, Marquis Teague was a bulldog, Terrence Jones was a freak at power forward, and Darius Miller was the ultimate sixth man. So much talent. So much “team”. I’d pay millions to watch this crew take on the 1996 national champs.