Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com is no stranger to controversy. His name was attached to numerous stories regarding Cam Newton and other alleged recruiting improprieties at Auburn back in late-2010. As we all know now, nothing came of those stories. The NCAA found no guns, smoking or otherwise.
Now Evans is asking for angry emails from Kentucky hoops fans and you can bet his inbox is already full. Here’s why:
“Yet for the favorite to win the national championship, Kentucky on Tuesday night looked a shadow of the super team many thought it was becoming. Instead, it actually looked like a classic Calipari team.
The type that has more talent than anybody else in the country, but somehow fails to play to its sky-high potential. A team like the one Calipari had during the 2009-10 season, his first at Kentucky, which featured a record five NBA first-round draft selections, including the No. 1 pick in point guard John Wall, but lost in the NCAA tournament’s regional finals.”
“So there’s still plenty of reason to doubt Kentucky, just like there always is with Calipari’s teams.
Because the knock on Calipari will remain the same until he finally wins his first NCAA championship: He can collect all the talent he wants, but inevitably underachieves with it because of his coaching shortcomings.”
Not to be a Calipari apologist, but I’m pretty sure it took Roy Williams 17 seasons to win his first national title. It took Jim Boeheim 27. Those are Hall of Fame coaches. The lesson: Winning six games in a row in March isn’t as easy as winning six in a row in December.
Calipari is in his 20th season. That doesn’t mean he can’t coach — something that this writer has actually come around on and actually discussed yesterday – or that he won’t win a national title at some point.
As for Evans, it’s a helluva lot easier to predict someone will lose in the NCAA tourney than win it. Sixty-seven coaches will “fail” this March. One will deliver. And when the Butlers and VCUs and George Masons of the world are reaching Final Fours, it further shows that upsets do happen. Regardless of roster talent. Regardless of coaching acumen.
So if Calipari goes bye-bye in the Big Dance it will only prove that Evans knows how to place a safe bet, it won’t prove his point. That will still be up for debate.
With regards to Kentucky’s team, the Cats are currently 27-1. Their only defeat came on a buzzer-beating shot at Indiana in December. They have no losses in SEC play… including on the road. Last night they trailed by 13 before coming back to win at Mississippi State.
Was that really the beginning of the end for the Wildcats?
Syracuse is 27-1 and its loss came by nine at Notre Dame. Third-ranked Missouri has lost twice to Kansas State, once by seven and once by 10. Duke is #4 in the nation with four losses. Fifth-ranked Kansas has five losses as does #6 Michigan State. North Carolina, well, the Tar Heels may be ranked #7 in the nation, but they have a loss to Kentucky and a 33-point clubbing at the hands of Florida State among the four defeats on their resume.
If Evans is seeing flaws in Kentucky’s play, what the heck is seeing in everyone else’s game?