Thursday, March 21, 2013
3-point shot: Kentucky's next steps
By Andy Katz
1. Kentucky cured any hangover from the Robert Morris loss by getting a commitment Wednesday from Julius Randle. The Wildcats will have as heralded an incoming class next season as they did in John Calipari's first and third seasons in Lexington. But there will have to be scholarship discussions in the coming weeks. This is nothing new -- and Kentucky is hardly alone in this type of scenario. Players who don't turn out as expected can see coaches recruit new talent for their roster spots, especially at elite programs -- thus creating scholarship issues. Of course, the Wildcats have a few players -- like Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin -- who could be drafted based on potential. But the only player on Kentucky's roster who could contribute next season in the NBA is a healthy Nerlens Noel. No one else. Don't be surprised if there is some natural attrition on this roster. Any time a team underachieves and reaches the NIT instead of the NCAA, roster changes are possible.
2. Boise State lost to an unheralded La Salle team in the First Four on Wednesday night. But the Broncos were way ahead of schedule this season. Boise State coach Leon Rice said earlier in the week on ESPNU that he told the administration in the preseason he had no idea how good this team would be by season's end. The Broncos' appearance in the NCAA tournament could be akin to Colorado State's a year ago. The Rams popped up a year early and are back again this season. The Broncos now have to ensure that this season was hardly a fluke -- with the added expectations of repeat NCAA appearance. Rice has done wonders in making Boise State relevant in hoops. There's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.
3. Two of the biggest winners in this alignment game will ultimately be the fan bases at Creighton and Butler. Just think about the change on the schedule for these two programs. The Bluejays are going from hosting Bradley or Evansville to having Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova come to Omaha, Neb. And within two years, Butler will have gone from hosting Youngstown State to welcoming Georgetown to Indianapolis. Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said that this will be a challenge for the coaching staffs, which now have to learn new systems and styles on the fly. Butler had to try to figure out the Atlantic 10; now, within a year, the Bulldogs will be in another league, playing a true round-robin schedule.