The Kentucky Wildcats may have a long way to go before they reach their full potential, but the numbers are already proving that Calipari is right about his players caring more about the team than themselves.
So far this season, no UK player is averaging more than 14.2 points per game (Doron Lamb currently leads the team). All seven Wildcats who are playing double-digit minutes are scoring at least 7.8 points per outing. Even more amazingly, all seven of those players have taken between 40 and 59 shots over the Cats' first six games. Moreover, five of them have tallied at least 10 assists on the young season.
Coach Cal's first two teams showed a similar kind of unselfishness, but his third is taking it to a new level. All seven of his top players are capable of being the top scoring option on a pretty good basketball team, but they are instead accepting even workloads in the hopes of becoming a great basketball team.
To further prove this, let's take a look at where the Wildcats rank in some of the key individual statistical categories tracked by the NCAA through Sunday's games:
- Scoring - No UK players in top 50
- Assists - No UK players in top 50
- Rebounds - No UK players in top 50
- Blocks - Anthony Davis (No. 4 with 4.3 per game)
- Field goal percentage -Anthony Davis (No. 5 at 71.4 percent)
- Steals - No UK players in top 50
- Double-doubles - No UK players in top 50
- 3-point field goals - No UK players in top 50
On the face of things, it may seem surprising to see so few Wildcats among the nation's leaders, but not so much when you consider how balanced UK has been. On the flip side, Kentucky ranks in the top 50 nationally in the following team statistical categories:
- Scoring offense - 84.2 points per game (No. 14)
- Scoring defense - 54.2 points per game (No. 12)
- Scoring margin - 30.0 points per game (No. 3)
- Field goal percentage - 51.4 percent (No. 10)
- Field goal percentage defense - 31.3 percent (No. 3)
- Rebounding margin - 8.8 per game (No. 21)
- Assists - 16.3 per game (t-No. 36)
- Blocks - 10.3 per game (No. 1)
- 3-point field goal percentage - 41.1 percent (No. 34)
Not bad, huh?
UK has managed to maintain an unselfish attitude through the early portion of the non-conference schedule and, on the strength of it, has risen to the No. 1 ranking in both major polls. However, the schedule is about to get tougher. The Wildcats' next three games against St. John's, North Carolina and Indiana will all be played in front of capacity crowds and national television audiences. How they fare could well depend whether they can stick with the all-for-one approach that has worked so well this season.
"The question is when the lights go on in these big games do we continue to feel that way, and that's something we're going to have to see," Calipari said.