[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Anthony Davis’ statistics from last year (2011-2012; 40 games): 32mpg, 14.2ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4spg, 4.7bpg, 62.3fg%, and 70.9ft%.
Nerlens Noel’s statistics from this year (2012-2013; 15 games): 30.9mpg, 10.8ppg, 9.3rpg, 1.9apg, 2.7spg, 3.7bpg, 57fg%, and 58ft%.
Nobody enjoys stepping down from the thrown. Let’s be realistic, the Cats probably won’t win a national championship this year, but I believe that there is hope for a strong run in the tournament. It’s hard to doubt a team with as much talent as this one has. Kentucky is ready to explode and hopefully upset — I know that all of you who bleed blue hate considering wins at Kentucky as upsets, but this year they are — some teams.
Blame it on the youth, if you want. People like to talk about how young they were last year, but they tend to forget about Darius Miller, the veteran. I can’t imagine where Kentucky would’ve ended up last year without his leadership throughout the season. Julius Mays is an experienced player, yes, but he has never played on the stage that Kentucky must perform on a nightly basis.
If you listen closely, you can hear whispers of people giving up on this year’s team and looking forward to the powerhouse class of 2013 that Coach Cal has coming in next year. UK is on schedule to have to the most popular twins since Mary Kate & Ashley, and versatile players at every position, along with the possibility of even signing Wiggins or another top recruit before it’s all over with. But before you start placing bets on next year’s team, I would like to take a moment to part the clouds and let a little bit of sunlight shine down on the current squad.
Nerlens Noel is not Anthony Davis. He never will be. I don’t expect anyone to ever have the type of season like Davis did last as a freshman ever again, and neither should you. Because of the down year, fans are focusing so much on the loses that they may forget just how good Noel is playing. He may not be having quite the season that Davis did, but Noel’s isn’t far off (look for yourself above). Noel’s offense is obviously nowhere close to Davis’, but his defense – brace yourselves – is arguably just as good. There, I said it.
Numbers don’t lie. Noel may not get all of the hardware that Davis did, but I think we need to appreciate what we have right under our nose. Noel is incredible and hasn’t even touched his potential, yet. Don’t give up on this year’s team and count your blessings, Big Blue Nation. I know you want to, but winning a championship every year is a tad bit unrealistic. You are placing the fate of each season in the hands of 18 year-olds here at Kentucky. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. Patience, people, patience.
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