Hold on tight: UK season will be a roller-coaster ride, Vitale says

Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

Four No. 1-ranked teams in the first month of the season should send a message, longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said Wednesday. The message: No team will dominate; all teams will experience adversity.

"There's no doubt in my mind you're going to have a rocky road in terms of up-and-down roller coaster," Vitale said on a teleconference. "There are a lot of good teams. But there are no dominant teams."

Vitale, who worked his first college basketball game for ESPN 40 years ago Thursday, said that label of good, if not great fits Kentucky.

"This Kentucky team is going to be a good team," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt. By the end of the (season), it'll be a good basketball team. Will it be great? Probably not. But they're going to be good."

Vitale said he expected Kentucky's 2019-20 season to be a "typical John Calipari kind of year." The Wildcats will need time to mesh.

"You start off struggling," Vitale said. "Then eventually, he gets them to unify, to play the way he wants them to play. I think we'll see the same scenario.


"There's enough talent there."

Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey give UK a "very good" backcourt, Vitale said before adding that the key for Kentucky will be big men Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery.

An annual reliance on freshmen feeds into Kentucky's now-familiar scenario of requiring a patient hand, Vitale said. One-and-done players make it "very difficult for these programs to develop that heavyweight powerful team year in and year out," he said.

Vitale worked the telecast of No. 1 Louisville's 58-43 victory over No. 4 Michigan on Tuesday. He came away impressed with the Cardinals' depth, size and ability to defend.


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