<
>

Weekend homework: Big Blue's big issue

The natives are getting restless across the Bluegrass State, which isn’t necessarily unusual. Postgame panic after a loss is as certain as a sunrise in Kentucky. But the worry is especially pointed -- and maybe even a little merited -- this season after the Wildcats’ uninspiring 8-3 start.

The issue with Kentucky, as has been well documented by media and the Wildcats’ coach, isn’t talent. There’s more than enough to go around. It’s all the little things -- cohesion and attitude, determination and focus -- that are missing. The players’ body language speaks volumes, with eye rolls and slumped shoulders, showing a team that isn’t at all connected to one another. The Harrison twins are especially guilty, and a point guard that isn’t in on the team concept is more than a problem; it’s a potential disaster.

All of those are much harder to fix than a simple solution for boxing out, which is why the Kentucky faithful’s hand-wringing isn’t entirely misplaced.

So when Kentucky hosts Belmont on Saturday, the final score might not matter as much as how the Wildcats play. (Although there is potential for the final score to matter, too. Though the Bruins have lost three of their past four and looked bad in the fourth against Denver, this is still a team that beat North Carolina).

This is Kentucky’s final warm-up before the annual Civil War tilt against Louisville, and simply winning the game isn’t enough anymore. The Wildcats have to win it decisively, as a team with their talent is expected to do, and they have to look like a team doing it.

May we suggest a few fist bumps and high-fives?

The atmosphere in Rupp Arena during the Cats’ last home game against Boise State was more apprehensive than excited, because along with being rabid, the fans there are pretty smart. They know a good team when they see it, and right now Kentucky isn’t playing like a good team.

There is more than enough time in the season to fix what ails Kentucky, but in the short term -- with Louisville looming in just a week -- time is of the essence.