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Buckle Up For The Mark Pope Experience



Diving Kentucky Basketball and its brand-new head coach


Mark Pope's way of life

For the First time in almost 20 years, the most storied University in college basketball will have a new head basketball coach. John Calipari is out, and in most Cats fan's opinions were over past due. He had developed a system to bring stars to the school. Still, unfortunately, his coaching habits and stubbornness allowed for him to be exposed in tournament games more recently being out-coached by schools and coaches who are not of the same pedigree as Kentucky and Calipari.


This now ushers in a new era of coaching here with a fresh new face, attitude, and a spark that Kentucky Basketball fans have been begging for since the St. Peters loss in 2022.


 

The introduction of Mark Pope to Big Blue Nation is like no other. There is no other fan base in the country who will show up hours and hours before to sell out one of the biggest basketball arenas in the country. This is what makes this job special, and after seeing how Mark Pope has talked about this university, he is the man needed to restore the glory of Kentucky Basketball.


It always seemed like his team with Calipari, and it was his way or the highway. With Pope it was shown immediately he knows what this team and school mean to this state using the phrase "This is Our Team" multiple times in his press conference, referring to the 24,000 on hand for his introduction.


The biggest takeaway from the press conference was Pope emphasized playing for the name across their chest. He wants players who don't just want to play college basketball but who understand what it means to be a Kentucky Wildcat. He has done so by adding transfer stars such as Koby Brea, Brandon Garrison, and Otega Oweh.


He also added championship and big game experience with Lamont Butler, as well as the player opponents love to hate Kerr Krissa. Together, along with the 2 best players from Kentucky High School Basketball, Pope has assembled a roster that not only can shoot the lights out but also are here to win championships and restore Kentucky to its former glory.


My way to early look into Kentucky Basketball next season first needs to note what the Wildcats are up against. Alabama is arguably the best team in the country with returners like Mark Sears and Grant Nelson, as well as newcomers such as former 5-star recruit Aden Halloway from Auburn.


Next, would be a Arkansas and the gaudy orange team down south. Arkansas, now coached by Calipari, will have the same feel as recent Kentucky teams with a mix of 5-star power in potential lottery picks, Boogie Fland and Karter Knox, to pair along with veteran transfer Johnell Davis from Florida Atlantic who faced off against Butler in the final 4 where Butler hit the game-winner.


My prediction for this team right now would be top 25 to start the season slowly moving up and down as they adjust to Pope's high-volume shooting offense. This team has all the makings of a national championship contender, a coach who loves this program, lights-out shooters who will look for every chance to shoot the ball, and most importantly a chip on their shoulder.


Many think Kentucky could now be an afterthought in the national headlines but that's what will make them even better. I would predict UK will finish top 3 in the SEC. This would include them winning a SEC championship down in Nashville as Pope made sure to preface he wants to win that. Overall I think their floor is a sweet 16 game and their ceiling is watching the confetti fall Blue and White as Mark Pope returns the school to the top where they belong.


 

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