February 16, 2013
If John Calipari is going to maintain that his team can still find a way to turn things around now that it has lost its best player, he probably shouldn't listen to himself.
Before the season, Calipari was asked about this year's relative lack of depth and whether the threat of an injury could derail the season. His response:
"Well, if the wrong guy is injured on any team, I don't care if they have 13 McDonald's All‑Americans. North Carolina last year could have had anyone else injured except that point guard. The minute he went down, they were finished, and they had 12 McDonald's All‑Americans on the team.
Fab Melo goes down at Syracuse. Anyone else could have been out and Syracuse would have been in the Final Four. He goes down, different. The same with us. We'll be watching and looking."
Noel is, unquestionably, "the wrong guy" to get injured on this team. He was the Cats' heart, motor, soul -- whatever you want to call it, he was the central component to whatever success this team had achieved this year.
Now he's out. And Calipari can insist his team can find it in itself to overcome Noel's absence. But it won't happen.