Oct. 17, 2005
Everywhere I go, people are asking me about Kentucky. They keep asking what makes the Wildcats a top-10 basketball team.
First of all, Kentucky has leadership in coach Tubby Smith. He provides the stability and the know-how to win. Just look at his track record, my friends, and you can see he is a winner. Over the last three seasons, no school has won as consistently as the Wildcats, whose 87-15 record in that time span leads the nation in winning percentage (.853) and fewest losses.
The Wildcats have dominated in conference play, posting an SEC record of 51-6 during that same span.
Then you have the fans, arguably the most passionate in the sport. They will give the team great inspiration and adrenaline. The Big Blue will respond in a positive way.
Kentucky also has had great success away from home under Smith and Rick Pitino. It is special when you can consistently perform well on the road, especially in league play.
Why do I like this year's team? It starts in the backcourt, where Rajon Rondo should have a big season. He did a phenomenal job playing on the U.S. squad in the World University Games. Patrick Sparks will give the Wildcats a boost from long distance, hitting the trifectas. He got adjusted to the Kentucky system last season after previously transferring from Western Kentucky. This is an experienced tandem in the backcourt.
Look for a big year out of Joe Crawford, who should step up in the absence of Kelenna Azuibuike.
There is a question about play in the interior since the NCAA has not made a decision on the status of Randolph Morris. What are they waiting for? Are you kidding me, a ruling should have come out already! He will be declared eligible at some point and should not miss too many games. Why is there such procrastination, which frustrates so many coaches and players?
It is wacky that Kentucky is still waiting for an answer. I don't understand it and it hurts young people not to have a decision made by now.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Wildcats will be the premier team in the SEC once again.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.