Vitale: UK a ‘major disappointment’

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale labeled this season’s Kentucky team a “major disappointment” on Thursday.
Speaking on a telconference (and with 20/20 hindsight), Vitale and fellow analyst Seth Greenberg noted how the freshman-oriented Cats lack leadership, maturity and consistent perimeter play.
“Deep down, (UK Coach John Calipari) has to believe these kids have not lived up to expectations,” Vitale said.
Vitale and Greenberg acknowledged that unrealized expectations might say something about recruiting camp followers who speculated last year about Kentucky adding the greatest freshman class in the history of college basketball.
“We got so far ahead of ourselves,” Greenberg said of the six McDonald’s All-Americans among UK’s freshmen. “Until you get to the next level, you really don’t know who (is an elite player).”
Added Vitale: “Some of the recruiting services got carried away.”
Kentucky, which takes a 22-9 record into a Southeastern Conference Tournament game Friday night, can change perceptions radically in the next few weeks, the analysts said.
“Kentucky can wipe out all the talk,” Vitale said. “. . . If they get on a run, and they’re capable. There’s talent.”
Vitale said he could imagine a Calipari press conference following a dramatic resurrection of Kentucky basketball.
“Didn’t I tell you? It takes time,” Vitale said in predicting Calipari’s reaction. “We finally got our mojo back.”
Many of Kentucky’s flaws picked at by Vitale and Greenberg had been duly noted earlier this season. For instance, the lack of a veteran presence that’s experienced and commands respect.
“They don’t have anybody to coach the locker room,” Greenberg said. “A strong voice to explain Cal and hold each other accountable. A freshman can’t be that guy. It’s got to be an upperclassman.”
Greenberg also questioned the UK players’ willingness to cooperate with each other in a unified style of play.
“I’m not sure this team developed that trust that you want,” he said. “. . . You’ve got to have guys who want to trust each other.”
Like all teams, Kentucky must walk the delicate balance in attacking while also exhibiting good decision-making. That responsibility falls heaviest on the guards, who the analysts found lacking on defense and offense. Vitale said he had not seen the kind of lock-down defense that keeps the ball out of the lane.
“The biggest thing is it’s a two-week season,” Greenberg said. “What everybody’s got to do is check the egoes at the door.”