How quickly things change.
The Kentucky Wildcats have faced several formidable foes early in this long and bumpy road that is referred to as a “season.” That was different on Saturday when the Cats took on another pesky mid-major team in the form of Rider. What was so different about this day however was how quickly things changed for the Cats who days earlier were consumed by head coach John Calipari’s statements that his Cats team was the “worst defensive team since his 1988” squad that roared through local and national headlines.
Calipari doesn't hold back when talking about his inexperienced lineup. He is a straight shooter indicating his Cats team can't continue this trend by saying,
We had no sense of urgency defensively. There was absolutely no communication on the court, which makes it hard. We stopped playing as much as any team I’ve ever coached. We just stopped.
Calipari’s own sentiments from days earlier didn’t bother his young team, rather motivated them to a 92-63 victory over a team who had beaten SEC rival Mississippi State into the ground just a week earlier. The team showed zero signs of that upset quality over the weekend, as the worst defensive teamed since ’88 clamped down on assignments and held their opponent to just a shade over 60 points on the night.
The banter going into the game was the fact that this Wildcats team had given up record setting three-point shooting nights to teams that really had any business doing that in Rupp. With opponents having made 33 three-point field goals just days apart, the Big Blue Nation was hysterical that an inexperienced defensive unit still had yet to figure out that end of the game.
Kentucky’s game against Rider was much more fundamental. Sticking with your man, communication, hedging screens. Whatever you can think of, Calipari had the Cats doing it on Saturday. The Wildcats held Rider to just 4-17 three-point shots and smothered their opponent’s perimeter game, a game that had eaten the Cats alive in their past two matchups.
If Kentucky can lock down teams from both inside and outside, it’s going to be tough season for anyone facing the Cats. With the talent the Wildcats boast early on in the season, it is easy to forget just how dominate UK has been in the paint this year with players Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins making life hell for the other team. Cousins had five blocks alone on Saturday, a testament to how difficult it will be for opponents to score down low against the Cats.
Exactly why games against Miami (OH) and Sam Houston State were so frustrating, when the Wildcats were inept against the outside shooting of their counterparts.
The Wildcats were paced by John Wall’s 21 points and 11 assists. He had several dazzling moves to the basket that saw him take six free throws on the game. Wall’s dedication to get as close to the basket as possible for points has Wall playing in the mold of Dwyane Wade. Expect a lot of contact for the freshman and a lot of free throws, as he made 5-6 on the day against Rider.
Wall’s backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe struggled with Wall in the lineup. The most glaring problem with Bledsoe’s game early on is the amount of turnovers. He had 5 on Saturday, while racking up six the game before against Sam Houston State. A lot of those come on composure plays and knowing when to slow it down or speed it up. Bledsoe’s motor is always on high gear and it’s factoring into turnovers.
Freshmen were the theme to Saturday’s game with bench player Daniel Orton finally garnering some solid minutes which saw plenty of production. With Cousins sidelined due to foul-trouble, Orton got the brunt of the minutes in the post in a reserve role. He didn’t disappoint however, as he chipped in with 14 points and 6 rebounds. His field goal percentage was also encouraging, a realization that there won’t be much of a let off if Cousins is to get into foul trouble in other games. It’s not what Calipari wants but it does happen.
Junior All-American Patrick Patterson backed that appraisal up on Saturday by tying his career mark in rebounds by grabbing 18 of them. He also dropped in 19 points and his been hitting on all cylinders early in the season. The dribble-drive offense is coming slowly to Patterson, but his talents allow him to get a lot of easy production despite running any set plats. Expect a lot of this all season long as Patterson is in usual dominate form.
Cancun awaits the Cats as they head down South for another slew of games potentially against some better teams in the Cancun Challenge. Calipari could be happier with some of the thing his team has done thus far, but at (4-0) he can’t be too upset. This tournament should provide some exciting play and an opportunity for this young Wildcats team to come together before they get into the rough part of their schedule.
sorry bout the confusion
but in the past I have attributed stuff
and people still thought I wrote it myself lol.
Just giving u guys the daily news briefing :)
PS u guys really think I'd do a journalistic writeup on Kentucky? I dont have THAT much time on my hands!
I gotta work on my GAME and get into a school no time for journalism right now. peace
did the writer of that really say the teams uk has played have been "formidable"???
:) check Adi's link
I dont follow NCAA that much :(
formidable foes..lol..now that's funny
uk schedule ranking is 297