March 16, 2013
John Calipari hadn't coached a mediocre since 2004-05, his fifth season at Memphis.
But make no mistake: This 2012-13 Kentucky team was wholly mediocre. Average. Uninspiring.
On both sides of the ball.
The most glaring problem was on defense, where Kentucky ranked No. 96 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. That number is lower because of Nerlens Noel missing the final eight games, but not drastically. For Calipari, it's unusual for his teams to play bad defense.
The previous seven seasons his teams never ranked outside the top 15 in defensive efficiency, finishing 9th, 15th, 6th, 1st, 4th, 11th and 6th in the country. For a team that had as much athleticism and length as this group of Wildcats, it's almost stunning to see a team that bad. But Kentucky was a sieve on the perimeter, had no shutdown players on the wing, and couldn't do enough to compensate, hardly forcing opponents into any turnovers.
On offense, the story wasn't as bad, but UK was average. They ranked No. 35 nationally in adjusted efficiency on that side of the ball, again a lower mark than usual for a Calipari team.
The previous seven seasons, his teams ranked 2nd, 7th, 15th, 25th, 4th, 25th and 29th in the country.
UK lacked the dynamic playmakers of years past on the perimeter, had streaky shooters and couldn't work the ball through the post with much effectiveness. I think Calipari does deserve criticism for UK's offensive struggles. His players' skill sets were limited in terms of doing what he likes his teams to do -- play in isolation and create offense by driving -- and he didn't adjust to help them out.
But at the end of the day, Calipari had his most frustrating season in a long time. His team, one ranked No. 3 in the nation in preseason polls, ended up being fully, completely average.