- Eamonn Brennan, College Basketball Reporter
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On Monday morning, we revealed ESPN's 2014-15 Preseason Top 25. Topping the list was, surprise surprise, none other than the Kentucky Wildcats, who edged out (No. 4) Duke's own highly touted talent freshmen, (No.3) Wisconsin's experienced returners, and (No. 2) Arizona's combination therein.
But as we wrote in the power rankings, our interest in the Wildcats lies not just in whether UK will be good, but how. How do you get so much talent -- not only a swath of returning stars but a loaded 2014 class, too -- into a five-man basketball rotation? John Calipari's answer was predictably radical: He would sort his players into two platoons. Each group would play roughly the same number of minutes. The Wildcats would attack their opponents in waves.
There are plenty of questions worth asking about this idea, chief among them whether so many NBA-hungry talents will be eager to play role-player minutes. There's also the issue of general flexibility. What happens in late-and-close situations? What if one group vastly outperforms the other? And then there's the matter of the groups themselves: Who will play with whom?
The latter query now has an answer. On Monday night, Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White Scrimmage, and on Monday afternoon, via Facebook, Calipari officially assigned hotkeys to his Starcraft-ian Control Groups. They are:
It's worth noting, of course, that this is a first draft, Monday night is just a scrimmage, these teams are subject to change, etc. Still, there are some interesting thoughts here. For starters, no pun intended, it's clear that Calipari wants to mix his returning players with newcomers. Publicly, the coach would likely argue that these configurations simply work better; privately, it's fair to wonder whether avoiding some emergent freshmen-versus-veterans narrative is also a priority.
It's also interesting, though not especially surprising, to see the Harrisons in the same lineup. Earlier this month, Calipari told the ESPN College Basketball Podcast he had considered splitting the duo, to give each a chance to prove themselves as individuals to NBA scouts. "But," Calipari eventually concluded, "for me, to win now, it's best if they play together."
Anyway, platoons! They're totally a real thing, the No. 1 team in the country is totally unveiling them tonight, and you can now totally point to specifics in your arguments against them. So: What do we think?
On Monday morning, we revealed ESPN's 2014-15 Preseason Top 25. Topping the list was, surprise surprise, none other than the Kentucky Wildcats, who edged out (No.