Wednesday, February 13, 2013
How Noel's injury impacts Kentucky
By Joe Kaiser
The extent of Nerlens Noel's injured left knee is undetermined as of Wednesday morning, but there's plenty of concern in Lexington and around the nation that Kentucky could be without its star center for the rest of the season. Here's how the Wildcats will have to adjust if Noel's injury is as serious as feared.
"Without Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein needs to step up. You're talking about a short bench. You're talking about only eight scholarship players for the University of Kentucky. Cauley-Stein needs to step up. Kyle Wiltjer needs to be a little more consistent," ESPN's Seth Greenberg said on Tuesday. "They probably have to slow down a little bit on the offensive end. But where it really hurts them is on the defensive end. You're talking about a guy that blocks out the sun. He protects the front of the rim. It's hard to get to the baskets with Nerlens Noel in the game."
Neither Cauley-Stein or Wiltjer are anywhere close to the defender that Noel's proven to be this season, but each will have to make rebounding a bigger priority on both ends of the court. The same is true of fellow freshman phenom Alex Poythress, who at 6-foot-7, 239-pounds has the size to be more of a factor on the glass. All three must also step it up on the offensive end, particularly Poythress, who has been limited to eight points or less in four consecutive games.
Noel is averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals a game this season.