For those who don't know (prolly everyone) I'm a UK fan, have always been, I'm not some bandwagon fan, I was born and raised in Kentucky. Anyways, here are my impressions from the game last night
-First, I tip my hat to Izzo, he had a great gameplan and his players exicuted it perfectly for majority of the 1st half. Gary Harris really impressed me, looks like Eric Gordon (healthy), he can get to the basket, hit a pull up 3, and has a deadly floater. Although he was almost nowhere to be found in the 2nd half, but still really liking his game. Payne and Appling are both great college players, and should make the NBA. Sparty is going to need someone else to step up for a title run.
-Let me say the obvious about UK - Randle is a stud, we suck at FT's, transition defense was bad and way too many turnovers.
It boggles my mind how a d1 team with a lot of future pro players can sturggle to make free throws, good lord I can do that. With so many fouls going to be called, UK really needs to dedicate a lot of time in and out of practice to making free throws. If we shot 70% (attainable %) we would have won.
The offense look out of wack. That's to be expected with playing only freshman and sophmores in the 3rd game against a savy, verteran team like MSU. UK MUST get stronger with the ball. The execution doesn't really scare me since it's November. But too many times guys on UK easily got the ball stolen from them. Randle had at least 5 turnovers when someone came down to swipe the ball. All of our guards really didn't do well either. Also too many lazy passes that were just waiting to get stolen. The tranistion D was bad, but I think majority of that was because of horrible turnovers, where we had no chance of getting back. There were times UK wasn't hustling back, but I think that was just young kids having a mental break after struggling badly. Turnovers and transition defense go hand and hand, so if we can cut down on turnovers, transition d won't be an issue.
Julius Randle is a stud, flat out, end of story, period. Despite numerous turnovers and early struggles in the 1st half, Randle continued to play and kept attacking the basket. Didn't settle for jumpers, just played with his back the basket and scored through defenders. Randle already has better post moves than a lot of NBA players. Also Randle a monster rebounder, just too big, strong, athletic. As a freshamn he was bullying seniors and juniors.
Although Randle wasn't perfect. He didn't get back on defense (just like everyone on UK), got out of position on defense/reboudning position and too many turnovers. I did see some flashes on defense from Randle, there was one possesion when Payne caught it in the post, made a couple good post moves and Randle stuck with him the whole way not allowing an open shot, although Randle bailed Payne out with a foul on the arm as Payne shot. Still, that was very good defense on a very good player. On offense, Randle was sort of one dimensial, granted if aint' broke don't fix it, but I'd like to see Randle diverse his offense a little, because defenses will load up on him. I know he's capable of making a mid-range jumper and an occasional 3. I would like to see Cal use Randle in pick and rolls or have him play off the ball and cut more. There was a play when James Young backed his man in the post, Randle then back-cut his man to the basket for a lay-up.
-Considering we missed 16 freethrows, shot 4-20 (20%) from 3, and had 17 turnovers the fact that we lost by only 4 is very impressive. We could have easily been blow out, but the team continued to fight and made a rally, and in the 2nd half UK looked like the better team.
I think the 3-point shooting will improve when we improve running our offense. UK didn't take a lot of good 3-pointers, most where not in rythm and not open. When we did, we make most of them.
- One last note, UK needs to push the tempo. MSU did a great job getting back on defense and setting up, so we never had many chances for fast-break points. But UK always has 5 guys on the court who can run up and down, so they need to take advatage of this.
As a UK fan I'm obviously excited for what's in store, I think once we gel and come together on offense and defense, we'll have as good a shot as anyone else to win the title, it's just a matter of us doing it and playing like the better team.
I love it when your average joe saws they could make their free throws out there. First of all, shooting free throws in a pack house like that is a completely different animal, secondly, look at some of kentucky's players. WCS, Julius, and Dakari are all creature, and their hands are bigger than the ball, they can practice like no other and still struggle at the line/
Shooting free throws after running up and down a court and trying to catch your breath is hard enough. I can only imagine doing it in front of 20,000 people as an 18 year old