No matter how many opponents Kentucky blows out, ESPN analyst Jay Williams expects this season to make UK Coach John Calipari sweat.
That's because Calipari will have to balance a team goal of achieving at a historic level with so many individual players aspiring to advance to the NBA.
"One of the most difficult jobs in all of basketball," Williams said of this balancing act. "All of basketball."
Speaking during an ESPN teleconference Wednesday, Williams used his own experience as a highly decorated prospect to explain what he meant.
Never miss a local story.
"You have nine McDonald's All-Americans, who came with something," he said of this season's UK roster. "What I mean by that is when I was a player, I came (to Duke) with something. I came with a mother, a father, an AAU coach.
"I came with people yapping in my ear, trying to tell me how I needed to be better in order to achieve my overall goal, which was trying to be a dominating college basketball player and be a guy who eventually makes it in the NBA."
The rub of team and individual player aspirations became clear during the break between semesters. Calipari called for players to work toward adding components to their offensive games, the implication being such enhancements would help improve NBA Draft profiles.
Coincidentally or not, the strength of Kentucky's team — its defense — declined. Going into the 86-37 rout of Missouri on Tuesday, the Cats talked about regaining the collective identity as a defensive team par excellence.
"As Cal is trying to figure out what makes the team great, he's trying to balance how to keep everybody actively engaged," Williams said. "It's going to be an on-going thing for Cal throughout the entire year."
Williams envisioned "1,000 questions" about such topics as offensive rhythm (shorter minutes hurt offensive flow?), Andrew Harrison or Tyler Ulis at point guard, more touches for Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson as low-post weapons and more minutes for Trey Lyles.
Calipari's task is to maintain players' eagerness to be "defensive juggernauts" while keeping each Wildcat (and those yapping people) assured about an NBA career.
"It's going to be fascinating to watch," Williams said. "You talk about reality TV. Kentucky basketball is reality TV."
Williams became the latest ESPN analyst to say that Kentucky would win every game against Southeastern Conference teams this season.
"I still think Kentucky will go undefeated throughout the regular season," he said.
UK needing overtime and double overtime to win its first two league games did not give pause to such confidence.
"I don't think that was a slap in the face of the SEC at all," he said of various ESPN analysts dismissing the possibility of Kentucky losing a league game. "The SEC is really a good conference. I think that's a testament to how good Kentucky is."
Williams noted upcoming road games (with the exception of Missouri) as potential losses for Kentucky. He also put the home game against Arkansas in that category.
Calling the Cats a young team, he said, "They could slip up on the road."
The SEC schedule will serve as adequate preparation for the NCAA Tournament, Williams said.
When asked about Kentucky players who might improve dramatically, Williams mentioned Towns.
"No doubt in my mind he's a guy who can go off for 30 (points) in a game," he said.
Incidentally, Towns and Williams went to the same high school: St. Joseph in Piscataway, N.J.