Top-Ranked Cats Host Boston on Tuesday
John Robic has been around college basketball long enough to have a healthy perspective about almost everything.
So who better to ask about Kentucky’s ascendance to the No. 1 ranking on Monday, marking the fifth time in John Calipari’s seven seasons the Wildcats have claimed the top spot?
|Kentucky vs. Boston University|
|Fri., Nov. 24 - 9 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | Boston U.
Digital Gameday Program
|UK||2015-16 Team Stats||BU|
“It’s kind of a neat thing to be honest with you,” John Robic said. “For each team that we’ve had here to have a grasp of that. But knowing it’s November, doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’m proud of it. I think our team would be proud of it as well.”
The team, however, is more focused on the knowing it’s November thing.
“I mean, it’s honestly just a number,” Marcus Lee said. “Each team is just as equal right now. It’s the beginning of the season, it really doesn’t even matter. It’s not really going to—rankings don’t even really matter until March. And then at that moment it really doesn’t matter until the last four teams.”
The new No. 1 ranking comes at an interesting time for UK. The Cats are fresh off a week in which they delivered arguably the most impressive performance of the early college basketball season in easily dispatching Duke, which actually moved up in the Coaches’ Poll to No. 3. To follow up on that, UK struggled to a 78-63 win over Wright State, prompting Calipari to proclaim “there’s got to be 20 teams better than us right now.”
The message didn’t surprise Lee in the least.
“He has an image of each and every player and how great you can be,” Lee said. “Two games ago we showed how great we were able to be. So the expectation grew at that moment and we took a step backwards. That’s not something we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to take another step forwards and continue with where we went.”
What Calipari demands seems like a lot, but Lee doesn’t see it that way. The junior – who followed a double-double against Duke with a scoreless effort against Wright State – knows Coach Cal isn’t asking him and his teammates for anything they’re not perfectly capable of.
“All you really have to do is just keep working hard,” Lee said. “All he really asks of you is energy and to be into the game, to be totally focused. That’s what we’re really trying to focus on right not, is just staying focused and that’s what we’re really trying to focus on right now, is just staying focused and staying in the moment and staying energetic the whole time. We’re getting there.”
The next step on that journey comes Tuesday at 9 p.m. against Boston University. The Terriers (2-2) will bring a veteran team into Rupp Arena, one that remembers well its 40-35 halftime deficit against a UK team that was ranked No. 1 all season in 2014-15. The Cats would go on to win, 89-65.
“Last year they really spread us out and tried to drive us, probably because of our size,” Robic said. “They mixed it up man and zone against us. I would anticipate that again. They're playing a little bit of both this year. They're 2-2. They should be 4-0 after you watch the tapes. Very impressed by their personnel, what they run and their players have gotten better since last year and that's a credit to Joe (Jones).”
Regardless of personnel or UK’s new ranking, Lee knows Boston will be motivated.
“I expect it from them like I expect from every other team, to come and bring us their best,” Lee said. “When people come in to play the University of Kentucky they know they have to bring their best. We know that they’re going to be energetic to play and we can’t back off and think any different from any other team.”