Monday, November 30, 2009

My UK Freedom Hall Open Practice Report

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Just got back from the practice. It was a fun, light-hearted affair, definitely nowhere near one of his real practices (I assume).

Started off, he had the players come out and sign autographs for 20 minutes. It was entertaining to watch as a player would leave one position and huge groups of fans would cheer loudly to try to grab the player's attention. Best part was Patterson weaving between two corners, goading them into trying to outcheer the other corner.

Orton and Liggins did not practice. Calipari gave the explanation that they both had an important class in the morning, and that they stayed in Lexington tonight. Both will be at the game tomorrow. Strangely, Cousins was wearing Orton's #33 Practice jersey.

After the autograph session, the players spent about 10 minutes just generally shooting around. Nothing special. Once Calipari got finished signing autographs himself, the players split into guards and bigs, and worked on special skills. Guards worked mainly on dribbling to the elbow then kicking out to the wing for a 3-pointer. Bigs worked on their turnarounds, both into the lane and out into the wing, and shot 18-footers.

During this time, Calipari had gathered about 6 5-8 year old children. At random times they would come out and shoot free throws until they hit one. Players would give them pointers or scoot them up if they missed. Whenever one of the kids hit their shot, the people in the arena would give out a good cheer, and players would high-five the kids as they walked off the court.

The next phase of the practice was a three-point shooting contest where the team was split in two. The Blue team consisted of Cousins, Harris, Stevenson, Dodson and Krebs. The White team consisted of Wall, Patterson, Harrellson, Miller and Bledsoe. Teams would line-up, player would take a shot, grab his own rebound, kick it to the next player in line and repeat. The first team to hit 10 gets a point and it was best of 7. After each round, they would move around the three-point line similar to a three-point contest at an all-star game.

Surprisingly, the Blue team won four rounds in a row to complete the sweep. Each side of the stadium kept count for one of the teams, and led to a very fun atmosphere as the round got closer to 10. Blue side was jumping up and down, raucous, whenever that 10th shot went in.

After this, Calipari called a close to the practice and let the players go back to signing autographs.

Overall, I liked the practice. For the serious basketball fanatic it would have been nice to actually watch them run some drills and see what a normal practice looks like. On the other hand, most of the audience were parents with little kids, and they were totally into every aspect of it. Calipari knows how to keep a crowd happy. I can't wait to go back tomorrow and cheer on the team in the real deal.

Best part of the night came in two parts. First, 10 minutes before the players came out, three boys run out onto the court and start jumping up and down on the Cardinals logo on center court. Very cute and the crowd got a kick out of it. Second, staying in the spirit of this, Harrellson and Cousins lined up on either end of the center line, run at each other and do a back bump at center court, coming down loudly onto the cardinal logo. Wall and Bledsoe quickly line up to do the same but are stopped by Asst. Coach Antigua before they could finish the maneuver.

The crowd went absolutely nuts when Cuz and Jorts launched, and gave a mild jeer to Orlando for breaking up the second round.

From what I have heard, after Louisville moves into the new arena, we will still use Freedom Hall. It will be easier to get since Louisville will no longer have the exclusion rights to it.

Calipari said that he would love to add a second date in Freedom Hall to the schedule. He even said that he would like to get a conference game there, but fans have to come out and support the team.

There are roughly 3000 tickets still available for the game today, if you can make it, please go to ticketmaster and pick some up.

I hope you enjoy this summary, and if you have any questions, feel free to post and I will answer what I can.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

UK vs UNC-Ashevillle....A Preview

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Kentucky vs UNC-Asheville….A Preview (11/30/09-Monday-7PM) Freedom Hall
TV-FS South


Location-Asheville, NC

Head Coach-Eddie Biedenbach
Career Record-210-253 (45.4%) 16 seasons
At UNC-Asheville-181-202 (47.3%) 13 seasons

2008-09 Record-15-16
2008-09 Big South Record-10-8
2008-09 Postseason- None

2009-10 Record-0-5

Charlotte 86 UNC-Asheville 70
Tennessee 124 UNC-Asheville 49
Cambell-85 UNC-Asheville 66
Georgia 79 UNC-Asheville 58
Furman 72 UNC-Asheville 66

3 point%-25.2%

Probable Starting Lineup

J.P. Primm G-6’1” Soph (PPG-12.2)
Matt Dickey G-6’3” Soph (PPG-8.8)
Chris Stephenson G 6’3” Soph (PPG-11.0)
Sean Smith F 6’6” Sr. (PPG-7.2)
John Williams F 6’4” Jr. (PPG-8.8)

Other Key Players

D.L. Cunningham C 6’10” Fr. (PPG-(4.4)
Eric Stubbs C 6’8” Jr. (PPG-(4.0)

UNC-Asheville arrives in Freedom Hall with an 0-5 record including a 75 point loss to Tennessee. The Bulldogs have only 2 players averaging over 10 points a game and the team is shooting a dismal 37.7% from the field…..25.2% from the 3 point line…..and 57.7% from the free throw line. Simply put, UNC-Asheville is not a very good team. They are mostly undersized and not very experienced. Unless there is remarkable improvement, the Bulldogs are facing a very bad season. Suffice it to say…..UNC-Asheville will soon be 0-6 after facing UK in Louisville Monday!

UK is fresh off of winning the Cancun Challenge….barely….with an OT win over Stanford. In this early season, these young Cats have been tested with tough wins over Miami, OH and now Stanford. These early tests have hopefully added to the needed maturity and experience of these very talented Cats. Obviously. The development of this young UK team remains a work in progress, but there are positive signs that improvement is occurring….especially defensively.

The game against UNC-Asheville should provide a good opportunity for UK’s bench to get some significant playing time. It’s good to see Dodson out of the doghouse and I suspect that Liggins will soon be playing as well. I would think that with Patterson having hurt his ankle at Cancun, that coach Calipari might consider holding him out against the Bulldogs so as to have Patterson at full strength when the Tarheels come to call next Saturday.

This game against UNC-Asheville should simply provide UK the opportunity to work on their execution of the DDMO and improving their defense. This should be a very easy win for the Cats over a far less talented Bulldog team. GO CATS!

Friday, November 27, 2009

UK vs. Tennessee 2009 Football Preview

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This week the Kiffins (Monte and Lane) roll into Lexington to take on those pesky Wildcats from the Commonwealth. As most fans know, the Vols have had the CATS number for quite some time, and look to exact this years beating on the historically bad kittens of Rich Brooks and Company.

When the Big Orange shows up on Senior Day, the heat will be on the CATS to end this stupid losing streak and make a special mark in Wildcat lore. During this streak, the CATS have found novel ways to lose this competition in ways most CAT Fans would love to forget.

Tennessee seems to always have one of the Top 10 recruiting classes of College Football Talent in the Nation. Their talent and history is well known. The CATS on the other hand have upgraded talent at every level, and look to show The Big Orange that it is a New Day in Town and things may look the same, but are in fact quite different.

This year, the teams stack up better than usual. The CATS seem to be peaking at the right time, the Vols struggle away from home; the CATS are tired of hearing about the Vols and their dominance over previous Wildcat teams.

On offense, the Vols have a dominant O-Line, running game (led by Hardesty and Company) and an improving QB in Crompton. The CATS have a young, and improving D-Line led by C Peters which looks to take away the running lanes, and make Tennessee 1 dimensional with the passing game. Crompton is easy to rattle, the running game is not. If Tennessee controls the line of scrimmage and the running game, the day could get long and tiresome for the Wildcats. If the Kittens hold the point of attack, and get heat on Crompton, the CATS can end this silliness called “The Streak”. If the CAT D plays up to its potential and gets them out of their comfort zone, the CATS will be tough to handle—just ask Georgia!

The CATS Offense is much like the Vol’s Offense in that they both like the run game. As usual, look for Joker to keep Tennessee off balance with the “WildCobb Formation”. This years Wildcat O-line is the best it has been in many years, and can control the UT Front 4 due to its depth and talent. For the CATS to win, they will have to keep Eric Berry in check by mixing the passing game and running game with equal deadliness. If a UK quarterback (especially Newton) can hit 3-4 long balls to a receiver and keep the Tennessee defensive backs honest the CATS can definitely ride off into the sunset victorious over the prima donna Vols.

The other key to a Wildcat Victory will be special teams. The CATS will have to keep the special teams “Clean” meaning no penalties or bad plays which can spin the game in favor of Lane’s team. The most important player will be Ryan Tydlacka, it will be up to him to make the Vols have a long field each time he punts the ball. This game may actually come down to a field goal, and if that happens Lones Seiber will be able to atone for all of the past with 1 kick which would put him at the top of the UK Mt. Rushmore for the last 30 yrs.

Almost every game, fans hear coaches speak of “all 3 phases of the game” IE Offense, Defense, and Special Teams being important in victory. This is very true of this years game for the “Beer Barrel (yeah, but it will always be that to me). If the CATS win the game, it will be because they win all 3 phases and nothing else.

This years edition of the Volunteers is very beatable, for that to happen the Wildcats must play clean and tough from beginning to end. As stated before, look for the game to come down to a field goal. This is the one year that I am counting on Lones to ride off into the sunset not only as UK’s leading scorer of all time, but also as “The Hero who Broke the UT Streak”! I am also looking for Brooks to be on someone’s shoulders for the simple reason that he led the team in victory over UT!

CATS 31-30

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kentucky vs Cleveland St.....A Preview

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Kentucky vs Cleveland St. Vikings (11/24/09-Tuesday at 4:30pm)

Cleveland St.

Location-Cleveland, OH

Head Coach-Gary Waters
Career Record-228-180 (55.9%) 13 Seasons
At Cleveland St.-57-45 (55.9%) 3 Seasons

2008-09 Record-26-11
2008-09 Horizon Record-12-6
2008-09 Postseason-1-1 (Lost in NCAA 2nd round)

2009-10 Record

St. Bonaventure 72 Cleveland St. 62
Cleveland St. 99 Wilmington, OH 74
Cleveland St. 78 Florida A&M 64
Cleveland St. 80 Sam Houston St. 65

3 Point %-36.8%
Assists PG-13.5
Rebounds PG-35.3
TO’s PG-14.5
Steals PG-10.8
Blocks PG-1.3

Probable Starting Lineup

Aaron Pogue C/F-6’9” Soph (PPG-8.0)
Jared Cunningham F-6’9” Jr. (PPG-10.0)
Norris Cole G-6’1” Jr. (PPG-21.0)
D’Aundray Brown G-6’4” Jr. (PPG-8.5)
Trevon Harmon G-6’0” Soph (PPG-10.3)

Other Key Players

Jeremy Montgomery G-6’2” Soph (PPG-7.5)
Tim Kamcyc F 6’6” Fr. (PPG-5.0)
Nigel Ajere F-6’6” Soph (PPG-4.7)

Last season Cleveland St. defeated Butler at Butler….Syracuse in the Carrier Dome….took down Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA. Although the Vikings lost 3 starters from last season’s team, this year’s team promises to be dangerous to any opponent that overlooks them. Coach Waters in only 3 seasons has turned the Vikings program around from a 10-21 record his first season to 47-24 over the past 2 seasons including 26 wins last season. Coach Waters is on a mission to take the Viking program to a higher level and he is off to a very good start.

This season, Cleveland St. is led in scoring by Norris Cole who is shooting 56.5% from the field and 58.3% from 3 point range. Coles also leads the Vikings in assists and steals. Aaron Pogue leads in rebounding for Cleveland St. The Vikings are starting 3 juniors and 2 sophomores and mostly bring 2 sophomores and one freshman off the bench, so while there is some experience, it is a fairly young team….but, the Vikings certainly have talent and any opponent that takes them lightly risks defeat.

Importantly, the Cats made solid improvement defensively in defeating Rider 92-63. The Broncs were held to 23.5% from the 3 point line. Through 4 games, UK is shooting a solid 52.8% from the field and a bit surprising 36.8% from the 3 point line. Certainly, much of the credit for UK’s better than expected 3 point shooting thus far is due to Eric Bledsoe’s 9-18 for 50%. Also, it is great to see that the Cats have 5 players averaging double figures….which is terrific balance for this young team. Unlike last season, when teams often double teamed Jodie Meeks, this year’s team scoring balance makes it dangerous for any team to try and double team a UK player without paying a price.

The Cats did curtail their TO’s to 15 with Bledsoe still committing 5 TO’s. Bledsoe is a terrific player, but needs to be more careful with the ball….and he will. Offensively, the tremendous athletic ability coupled with great talent have made these young Cats a joy to watch. Obviously, there remains lots more improvement offensively and defensively, but UK is definitely taking some positive steps forward.

Hopefully, the situation with Dodson and Liggins will soon be cleared up…..Dodson especially….as his offense will certainly be needed against tougher opponents.

I think the Miami scare sobered up these young Cats and I look for UK to respect and defeat a feisty Cleveland St. team. GO CATS!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kentucky vs Rider Broncs....A Preview

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Kentucky vs Rider Broncs…A Preview(11/21/09-1PMEST/NoonCST-Saturday)
TV-Fox Sports South(Live)/BBSN(Tape Delayed)


Location-Lawrenceville, NJ

Head Coach - Tommy Dempsey
Career Record - 146-51 (74.1%) in 8 seasons
At Rider - 58-39 (59.8%) in 3 seasons

2008-09 Record-19-13
2008-09 MAAC Record-12-6
2008-09 Postseason-None


Rider 88 Mississippi St. 74
Rider 86 Lehigh 71
Virginia 79 Rider 46

3 Point %-48.5% (33-68)
Assists PG-15.3
Rebounds PG-35.0
Steals PG-6.0
TO’s PG-13.0

Probable Starting Lineup-

Ryan Thompson G-6’6” Sr. (PPG-14.7)
Justin Robinson G-6’2” Jr. (PPG-11.3)
Novar Gadson G-6’7” Soph (PPG-14.7)
Mike Ringgold F-6’7” Jr. (PPG-11.7)
Jermaine Jackson F-6’8” Soph (PPG-1.7)

Other Key Players

Jhamar Youngblood G-6’1” Jr. (PPG-6.0)
Jonathon Thompson G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-1.7)
Patrick Mansell G-6’1” Jr. (PPG-6.0)
Brandon Penn F 6’7” Soph (PPG-4.0)

The Rider Broncs arrive in Rupp arena with an impressive win over a solid Miss. St. team in Starkville….a win over Lehigh….and a bad loss to Virginia. Rider has been shooting lights out from the 3 point line….hitting 48.5%, but hit only 7-23 (30.4%) against a tough Virginia defense. The Broncs starting lineup has 2 seniors and a junior along with 2 sophs…they return 4 starters from last season plus several players with experience from last season. Overall, Rider has good size with 4 starters being 6’6” or better and the Broncs are a veteran team. Ryan Thompson, the Broncs 6’6” guard, is considered one of the top mid-major players in America. Thompson is shooting 50% from the field and 52.6% from the 3 point line. Thompson gets plenty of scoring help as 3 other starters are scoring 11 points or better. Ringgold and Gadson are the Broncs leading rebounders. Rider will look to rebound from their disappointing loss to Virginia, but their early victory at Starkville reveals that the Broncs can be a very tough opponent!

The young inexperienced Cats did get a win over SH St., but once again defensive problems allowed far too many 3 point shots. In the past 2 games, UK has allowed 33 3 pointers which is simply inexcusable. Coach Calipari is exceedingly disappointed in the overall defense exhibited thus far by these Cats. The Cats also had 23 TO’s….most caused by carelessness and poor decisions by Wall and Bledsoe. On the plus side, there were solid offensives games from Cousins, a real stud, Patterson, Wall and Bledsoe. Importantly, Darius Miller finally got untracked and added 15 points.

Unfortunately, UK got zero points from their bench…..and both Liggins and Dodson appear to be in Calipari’s doghouse as neither saw action. Hopefully, Dodson, who is arguably the Cats best shooter, will learn his lesson and soon be back on the court. Unquestionably, UK will need Dodson’s offense in the coming games. Certainly, coach Calipari is sending a clear message to his young team that if anyone violates team rules or is not following coach’s practice instructions… will be sitting on the bench.

The Cats are a shaky 3-0 and it is imperative that they start playing much improved defense as well as minimizing TO’s…..because the upcoming competition will be much tougher. Everyone knows that this UK team is the most talented in years, but to achieve great success this season….they must learn to follow Calipari’s instructions offensively and defensively. Coach Calipari appears to be not as concerned with the execution on the floor, but rather, players simply not following his instructions. Those are two different things and must be corrected ASAP. Youthful mistakes are one thing….but doing the opposite of what coach has instructed is quite another. Coach Calipari is a great coach and he will mold these incredibly talented Cats into a terrific team, but….in the meantime….he will be a strict taskmaster insisting on players following his instructions….if they don’t….look for them at the end of the bench.

The game against Rider will test UK’s defense…as the Broncs can shoot the 3 ball and will likely be the toughest opponent for these young Cats so far this season. I look for increased improvement by the Cats on the defensive end. This could be a close game, but I look for the Cats to come away with their 4th win in this young season. GO CATS!

What I Saw vs. Sam Houston State

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There are a lot of things that need to be worked on, but I'll start with the positives, again.

* I saw our starting 5 put up 102 points between them. That's impressive.

* I saw DeMarcus Cousins get Coach Cal's message from the second half of the Miami game. He can be a dominate big man. 27 points and 18 boards in only your 3rd regular season college game. WOW!

* I saw this team finally begin to run the DDM offense effectively.

* I saw 50% 3 point shooting. If we can shoot even close to that throughout the year, we'll be tough to stop.

* I saw the Eric Bledsoe/John Wall combination show glimpses of greatness. These two on the court together is going to be fun to watch.

* I saw Daniel Orton, once again, play very good, physical defense.

* I saw 10 blocked shots. We are such a long team, we are going to create a lot of problems for a lot of teams when they drive to the paint.

* I saw Eric Bledsoe show that he is more than capable of being a 3 point threat, which is something we'll need from him at the 2 guard spot.

* I saw John Wall show that he's not just a highlight reel player, and play a solid, smart game. 19 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds. I'll take that out of our point guard every game.

* I saw Patrick Patterson be Patrick Patterson. There's not much you can say about the guy that you don't already know.

* I saw Patrick Patterson move very well inside the lane, and position himself for a lot of rebounds.

* I saw DeMarcus Cousins SMILE! Amazing what happens when you just go out and play the game, and have fun doing it.

* I saw Darius Miller begin to play with a little more confidence, and even knock down some outside shots. He will be huge to our success this year.

* I saw DeMarcus Cousins show a lot of hustle. He was hitting the floor for loose balls more than anyone on the court.

* I saw Coach Cal show a lot of intensity on the sideline. Like they said before the game, no more Mr. Nice Guy from Coach. I was scared for his heart after the 3 they hit when he called the timeout in the 1st half.

* I saw John Wall show just how basketball smart he is. There were many times when we began to look sloppy, and he would back it up, and slow the game down. Very impressive for a freshman.

Now for the negatives...

* I saw our 3 point defense, once again be abysmal. However, it got better in the 2nd half. 12 in the first half, cut down to 6 in the 2nd half. Don't get me wrong, 6 in a half is still not good, but it's improvement. Also, a lot more of the 3s in the 2nd half were at least contested.

* I saw 0 points from our bench. There's really no way I can try to justify this. That's unacceptable.

* I saw too many turnovers. We need to protect the ball better. 20+ turnovers against a good team, and we'll get beat, bad.

* I saw a few times where we tried to make the highlight play rather than making the simple play for a bucket. We need to play more fundamental basketball.

* I saw Daniel Orton, once again, be soft on the offensive end of the court. I don't understand it. He's very physical on defense, then soft on offense. Might be a confidence issue.

* I saw very few times where we actually boxed out for a rebound. Once again, that comes down to needing to play more fundamental basketball.

Overall, this is what you get with a young team most of the time. They will pick up one side of the ball very early, like we have done offensively. But struggle with one side of the ball, like we have defensively.

It's shown that Cal has put more emphasis on offense in practice so far, but I think that will change after the performance last night. I'm not worried yet about our defense, because every year, Cal's teams are near the top in the country in defense, and I think in time, we will be too.

We have a long way to go to show we deserve that #5 ranking, but we definitely have the potential to be a top 5 team this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kentucky vs Sam Houston St......A Preview

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Kentucky vs Sam Houston St……A Preview (11/19/09-Thursday)
7pm-FS South-Live/BBSN-Taped Delay

Location-Huntsville, Texas

Head Coach: Bob Martin
Career Record: 323-158 (67.2%) 16 seasons
At Sam Houston St.: 200-123 (61.9%) 11 seasons

2008-09 Record:18-12
2008-09 Southland Conf. Record: 12-4
2008-09 Postseason: None


Sam Houston St. 73 Le Tourneau 42
Sam Houston St. 91 Texas College 54

3 Point %-28.6%

Projected Starters

Corey Allmond G-6’1” Sr. (PPG-14.0)
Ashton Mitchell G-5’11” Sr. (PPG-10.0)
Gilberto Clavell F-6.6” Jr. (PPG-15.0)
Josten Crow F-6. 4” Jr. (PPG-5.5)
Arthur Zulu C-6’8” Sr. (PPG-6.5)

Sam Houston St., from the Southland conference, has opened their season with 2 easy victories and has played all 12 players on their roster for an average of 10 minutes or more. Although SH St. is an undersized team, they will likely start 3 seniors and 2 juniors….so they will bring solid experience to the floor. Three starters and the top four scorers return from last season’s team. Most dangerous is Sr. Corey Allmond who shot an eyepopping 43.6% from 3 point range making the 13th deadly 3 point shooter in the nation last season. In addition, Allmond’s 99 (3 pointers) made ranked him 14th in the nation. Last season starter Senior 6’6” Preston Brown started the 1st game, but didn’t appear in the 2nd game… as I write this….it’s unclear as to whether Brown suffered an injury or was held out for another reason. The Bearkats can add height to the lineup with 6’9” Fr. Aaron Thompson and 265 lb- 6’7” Soph. Artuan Bootie… look for several rotations of players in their lineup.

Kentucky returns to action after a real wakeup call courtesy of the Miami Redhawks who shot lights out from 3 point range. The Cats survived….barely….but, hopefully learned a very valuable lesson concerning not efficiently defending the 3 point shot. It was also a wakeup call for a number of UK fans who had visions of this Cat team rolling through the season undefeated or with only one or two losses. Certainly, no one questions the incredible talent on this UK team, but it’s obvious that these young Cats have a long way to go offensively and defensively. There is a steep learning curve to not only learn the DDMO, but also how to play lock down defense. The difference regarding the necessary intensity required in playing great defense in college vs high school is often measured in light years. Freshmen, soon learn that the caliber of talent is far greater on the college level and that to play….they must learn how to play solid defense of each and every possession….otherwise they will be spending time on the bench. I’m certain that the Miami game has helped coach Calipari and the UK coaching staff to gain the attention of all the players regarding the vital importance of learning and implementing the defensive strategies called for in Calipari’s defensive schemes.

Often, very close and competitive games early in the year can more quickly help the players to understand not only the importance of playing good defense, but taking care of the ball and minimizing TO’s. Both Wall and Bledsoe, in particular, will need improve their decision making on the court and reduce their TO’s. Both are great players, but need to understand that trying to dribble through college players vs high school players is night and day.

What is important for the Cats is to improve offensively and defensively each and every game….it will take time….but, these incredibly talented young Cats will need to shorten the learning curve as much as possible.

It was tremendous to see the great heart and confidence of this UK team to not panic when down by 18 points to Miami, but play their hearts out to come back and win. That will be a confidence booster for these young Cats.

The coming SH St. game will be a quick opportunity to correct some defensive failings and offensive problems. Corey Allmond, SH St.’s very dangerous 3 point shooter, and other Bearkats, should find getting open shots from the parameter very difficult if these young Cats have learned their lesson from allowing Miami to shoot nearly 60% from 3 point range.

I look for these young Cats to show overall improvement and add a third straight win this season. GO CATS!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kentucky vs Miami....A Preview

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Kentucky vs Miami Redhawks….11/16/09 (Monday at 7pm)
TV Coverage—Fox Sports South/Big Blue Network

Location: Oxford, OH
Enrollment: 15,766
Arena: 6,400

Head Coach: Charles Coles
Career Record: 316-252 (.556)-19 seasons
At Miami: 224-168 (.571)-13 seasons at Miami

2008/09 Record:17-13
2008/09 MAC Record:10-6
2008/09 Postseason: None

2009/10 Season
Towson 82 Miami 71

2009/10 Season Stats (Based on one game)
3 Point %-37.5%

Projected Starting Lineup

Rodney Haddix G-6’3” Jr. (PPG-5)
Kramer Soderberg G-6’0” So. (PPG-8)
Kenny Hayes G-6’2” Sr. (PPG-17)
Nick Winbush F-6’7” Jr. (PPG-11)
Adam Fletcher C-6’8” Sr. (PPG-11)

Other Key Players

Julian Mavunga F-6’8” So. (PPG-6)
Orlando Williams G-6’4” Fr. (PPG-5)
Antonio Ballard F/G-6’4” Jr. (PPG-8)

The Miami Redhawks lost a tough opening game against Towson at Towson. The Redhawks had a 5 point half time lead and were close throughout most of the 2nd half, but lost by 11 points. Miami must replace 3 starters including MAC player of the year…Michael Bramor….who averaged 17.9 PPG. Kenny Hayes suffered a season ending injury last season after just 8 games. Certainly, Hayes, who led Miami in scoring against Towson with 17 points, return will be a big plus for Miami. Importantly, the Redhawks, despite losing 3 starters, have a number of returning players with significant game experience. Miami started 3 guards against Towson with last year starter, Antonio Ballard, coming off the bench. Like most teams in the early season, I suspect that the Redhawk rotation is still a work in progress. I noticed that Miami played before only 3,259 fans at Towson…..they will be in for a huge change when they play before 24,000 at Rupp arena.

The John Calipari era officially started with a nice win over the Morehead Eagles. However, as coach Calipari warned..….this exceedingly young, but tremendously talented UK team will likely not be a great team until Jan./Feb. The Morehead game revealed that there is a lot of improvement needed on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court by these young Cats. Importantly, Patrick Patterson played a solid game with 20 points and 12 rebounds while freshman Eric Bledsoe wowed the Rupp arena crowd with 24 points and some spectacular plays. However, coach Calipari was not pleased with UK’s overall opening game performance and was disappointed with the performance of several UK players. Perhaps, most notably, Darius Miller, a very talented player who continues to disappear in games. Miller played 32 minutes while scoring 0 points and committing 5 TO’s. It would be unfair to write Miller off after one game, but Darius must find a way to play with more confidence and be more aggressive on the court or he will lose his starting position. Dodson, who in contrast to Miller, brings terrific confidence and aggressiveness to the game and is a good shooter…..must learn not to take bad shots. While Bledsoe had a terrific game, he occasionally gets out of control and did commit 7 TO’s. Still, Bledsoe plays with the eye of the tiger and I can’t wait to see Wall and Bledsoe together on the court. Cousins got into early foul trouble, but still needs to play with more energy on each and every play. Cousins is a stud and when he is playing hard….can dominate in the paint. Harris and Stevenson, both took a step backward with very lackluster performances.

It is possible that UK will make changes in their starting lineup as coach Calipari remarked that only Bledsoe, Wall and Patterson are certain starters against the Redhawks. This weeks practices will determine the other starters. Once again, UK should enjoy a solid height advantage when they take on Miami and it will be important to exploit that advantage by getting the ball inside the paint…..and take fewer 3 point shots. It will be very exciting to see John Wall play his first game of the official season. I look for a more focused UK team….committing fewer TO’s and playing much better defense. GO CATS!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I Saw vs. Morehead

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Believe it or not, I didn't see as much bad during the game Friday night as most people saw. The game went kind of how I expected.

Here's what I saw, starting with the positives.

*I saw, on defense, us closing out on the shooter quick. There were hardly any open jumpshots to be had by Morehead.

* I saw Bledsoe show that John Wall is not the only point guard on this team.

*I saw Bledsoe show a nice touch on his mid-range jumpshot.

* I saw Darnell Dodson show that he is the best shooter on this team. He is going to be key to this team if we plan on getting teams to stop playing zone.

* I saw 8 blocked shots. We're blocking shots like the 1998 team did.

* I saw very good ball movement on the perimeter.

* I saw us push the ball up the court after every missed shot. Looking for fast break points. Which I love to see, because I got so tired of seeing us slow it down and try to play half court offense for the past 4 years.

* I saw Patterson show good instincts on the offensive glass. He got a lot of rebounds by just flat out being in better position than everyone else.

* I saw Patterson once again show that he can step out and knock down a 3. Where was that the past 2 years!?

*I saw Cousins move very well without the ball, which is very important for this offense.

* I saw the type of full court press that I love to run. Look to trap the ball, then drop back.

*I saw a player who is going to have probably 20 double-doubles this year in Patrick Patterson.

* I saw Patterson do a very good job of getting into the middle of the zone for a 15 foot jumpshot or a kick out if everyone closed in on him.

* I saw John Wall looked determined to get back onto the court while on the sideline. Even on the bench, I get the feeling the kid is going to be very special.

* I saw Daniel Orton, in limited time, play very good physical defense.

* I saw DeMarcus Cousins, once again, hustle on both ends of the court, and prove his naysayers wrong yet again. Not only does he hustle on both ends of the court, but he's always one of the first guys to get back on defense.

* I saw a team that is going to get into the paint and score a lot of points inside, and that is also going to shoot a lot of free throws. We're going to get a lot of teams in foul trouble.

* I saw two guys, Eric Bledsoe and Darnell Dodson, look like they were really trying to run the DDMO.

* I saw a solid 16 point win over a very underrated Morehead team. Kenneth Faried could play for a lot of top teams.

Now for the negatives.

* I saw a lot of telegraphed passes. The equivalent of a quarterback staring down a receiver in football. Lot's of passes being deflected away.

* I saw a team that needs to try to work the ball inside more. I know the DDM is more about getting to the basket and creating, but we have Patterson and Cousins down low, we need to get them the ball.

* I saw Eric Bledsoe not be very vocal. Not everyone needs to be vocal to be a leader. However, Bledsoe is a point guard, he needs to be vocal, and demand respect from his teammates. I think he'll learn a lot as far as this goes from John Wall as the year goes on.

* I saw Darius Miller lack confidence. He played scared, and it showed with 0 points and 5 turnovers.

* I saw 14 first half turnovers. That's way too many, and won't get the job done when we play teams like North Carolina, UConn, and Louisville. *However, the good I did see in the turnover aspect was that we cut that down to 5 2nd half turnovers.*

* I saw a team who still has timing issues. Again, I think by January, we'll get the kinks worked out and we'll be more crisp, but for now our timing is way off.

* I saw Daniel Orton still fail to be aggressive on offense. I don't understand why he's so aggressive on the defensive end, but lacks on the offensive end.

* I saw a team only score 9 bench points. I'm not overly concerned with this, because when Wall comes back, our bench will be deeper. Add that to the fact that Hood was out with a wrist injury, and I think our bench play will be fine.

Overall the game is almost exactly what I expected. We looked very sloppy, but things began to slowly come together by the second half. I think we will get better and better each game, as the issues we're having are not about talent or coaching, they're simply about timing, which will improve over time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kentucky vs Morehead St.....A Preview

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Kentucky vs Morehead St.(11/13/09)—Friday-6:30PM—ESPNU

Morehead St.

Head Coach--Donnie Tyndall
Career Record—47-49 (.489) 3 Seasons at Morehead St.

2008/09 Record--20-16
2008/09 OVC Record--12-6
2008/09 Postseason Record—1-1 (Lost in NCAA 1st Round)

Projected Starting Lineup (Last season PPG)

Brandon Shingles PG 6’3” SR (PPG-5.0)
Demonte Harper SG 6’4” JR (PPG-10.6)
Maze Stallworth SF 6’4” SR (PPG-12.1)
Steve Peterson PF 6’5” SOPH (PPG-1.8)
Kenneth Faried C 6’8” JR (PPG-13.9)

The Morehead St Eagles open the 2009/10 season as the favorite to win the OVC. The Eagles are fresh off their first NCAA appearance since 1984 and attempting to be the very first team in school history to have back to back 20 win seasons. Although the Eagles lost their top scorer, Leon Buchanan….importantly, the Eagles return 4 starters from last season’s NCAA team and add Ty Proffit, a 6’4” redshirt transfer from Notre Dame who is from London, Ky. Morehead St. will be led by Kenneth Faried, a 6’8” jumping jack, who averaged 13 rebounds and was the 2nd leading scorer hitting 55.6% of his shots. Faried is not only one of college basketball’s best rebounders, but is a solid shot blocker. Maze Stallworth returns as the Eagles leading 3 point shooter hitting 87 of 229 attempts for a solid 38%. Stallworth also averaged 12.1 points per game.

Morehead St. will enter Rupp arena as a veteran team that is very physical and plays solid defense. With Faried, UK will see one of the most underrated big men in the nation.A number of sports analysts have tabbed Faried as a future NBA player….he is the real deal…..and will be a force in the paint. However, the Eagles will need to improve their ball handling this season and their overall 3 point shooting. Look for a confident experienced Eagle team playing very loose knowing that no one expects them to win. However, UK fans, in recent years, have seen too many underdog teams come into Rupp arena, with nothing to lose, and shoot lights out. Morehead St. will be a dangerous initial opponent!

Rarely, if ever, have the excitement and expectations been higher than for this season’s UK team. The Cats will unveil a new coach, a new system and the number one recruiting class in America as they open the season against the Morehead St. Eagles. UK fans have been treated to an early look at this new team….blessed with great quickness, athletic ability and talent… and two easy exhibition wins over vastly inferior opponents. Certainly, there was definite improvement in the overall play of the Cats in running the DDMO and the defense from the 1st exhibition win to the 2nd win. However, now the official season gets under way against a veteran NCAA Morehead St. team this Friday. The competition will be far better and will give Cat fans truly it’s first look at how this exciting new UK team performs against a quality opponent. Unfortunately, John Wall will be sitting out this game, but hopefully Eric Bledsoe’s ankle will be fine for him to take the PG role.

Unquestionably, this UK team has tremendous overall talent and great potential, but like a great author or great painter….the book hasn’t been written and the canvass is yet blank. As the Cats are learning Calipari’s new system, the coaching staff is also learning how best to use all this talent. How will all this great talent best fit together….what combinations and rotations will produce the best result on the floor? All these answers will be forthcoming as the coaching staff observes and experiments in future games.
Coach Calipari recognizes that the team has a long way to go to master the new system and recently ordered early two a day practices to underscore that he has not been satisfied with early results on the floor. Coach Calipari wants a highly disciplined focused team playing hard and smart for 40 minutes.

It is exciting for UK fans to see the incredible talent not only starting for the Cats, but coming off the bench. It appears that with Wall out……that UK will start Bledsoe and Miller at the guards and Dodson along with Patterson at the forwards….. with Cousins playing the center spot. It will be very interesting to see how UK’s frontline handles the Eagle’s Faried.

The official season starts Friday and I look for a very enthusiastic UK team ready to start writing their own place in UK history… start painting a great portrait of success. There is a long way to go but success must start with one step forward…..and these hungry Cats are READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!! GO CATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The UK Football Coaching Staff--Should they Stay, or Should They Go?

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UK Head Coach Rich Brooks, UK Offense/Wide Receivers Coach Joker Phillips, UK Defensive Coordinator Steve Brown

Over the last 2 years, the UK Football Coaches have come under tremendous criticism for the current health of the team. The areas of fan criticism include: recruiting, playcalling, lack of discipline, and questioning whether or not this program would be better off with someone else at the helm.

One of the main criticisms of the current Wildcat regime has been in the area of the recruiting of High School talent. Many of the big Blue Faithful have questioned whether or not this staff has demonstrated the ability to bring in better talent to the Bluegrass. The Coaches and Fans alike are unhappy with how slowly the talent base has grown during the tenure of Brooks and Company without thinking how low this program has been in the past.

Some fans are so naïve as to think that the coaches just need to go out and sign several 4 and 5 * players each year (it would be great, but remember, you need players who are willing to play at UK), but that is a pie in the sky mentality that is just not realistic.

Recruiting has picked up significantly. The 2009 class is a prime case in point. We had a plethora of talent that will come in and strengthen the CATS through the ’13 season. Names like Qua Huzzie, Morgan Newton, Larry Warford, and Sam Simpson will definitely be household names among the Faithful by the time their careers end in Lexington (barring injury or Academic failure).

The critics then point to the perceived lack of talent from the ’10 class declaring this year’s class is significantly inferior to the ’09 class. First, and foremost, fans must understand that Kentucky is NOT a talent rich Football state, and that the ’09 class was extremely strong by Kentucky Standards while the ’10 class was extremely weak by ANY standard. Make no mistake, the shift is on in the State to deepen the talent pool, but it looks like KY will always be defined in terms of Basketball talent and never Football.

The ’09 class was defined by the aforementioned Simpson and Warford (both instate dominant Offensive Linemen), 2 dominant instate Defensive players (Ridge Wilson, and Mister Cobble), 2 JUCO transfers which are becoming dominant ( C Matthews, and D Evans), among others. The success of this class should be highly lauded remembering that this is a recruiting class that we can build off of continually (over many years vs. each year). By this, I mean no specific individual class will match it; however, it will increase the talent base for years into the future.

By contrast, the ’10 class provides many players which will add depth and talent, but can in NO WAY compare to the ’09 class if only due to the 2 QBs (R. Mossakowski and M. Newton) recruited from last year. To lay the perceived results of the ’10 recruiting class at the feet of the Staff is to miss where this program was 6 years ago and where it has come FROM since that time, and is simply not fair to what they have accomplished during their tenure. Remember, this is UK Football, not Basketball with no continuity of winning throughout its history.

The main concern against the current staff in regards to recruiting still remains in the fact that only 1 specific coach continually brings in SEC Caliber players for this team. In the talent rich SEC, this is totally unacceptable, and each individual coach should be held accountable as to why the are not developing the relationships necessary to bring in bigger talent to a program which would provide early playing time for the ego-centric player of this era

Playcalling all over the field (Offense, Special Teams, and Defense) has also come under scrutiny with the fans. This area of criticism from the Big Blue Nation is probably the most deserved of all. Seemingly what can go wrong, always does go wrong. No one is foolish enough to think that the Staff goes out on the field to display an inferior product, but the coaches seem to not game plan, nor make in-game adjustments which put the team in a position to be successful and win especially in the 2nd half of close games. Some of the more defining points, in this area are seen in the fact that the same mistakes are repeated ad infinitim (often by the same personnel) and that progress is seemingly never demonstrated at least by individual perception.

For Offense and Defense alike, the fanatics laud the Bland or Vanilla Playcalling, often pointing to what other coaches have said in the past about the team IE. “We knew what Kentucky was going to do, before they did it”. While this statement is true, remember that this Head Coach is among the Top 5 in UK History in total wins. Even more applicable, the coaches know our opponents and that historically the CATS have sported inferior talent in the most talent laden Conference in College Football. For granted, the results have not produced an enormous amount of wins, but this strategy has produced wins, upsets, and kept some games remarkably close.

Special Teams are also often criticized by even the most casual fans. Again, Noone is foolish enough to think that the staff plans for failure in this particular area, yet as someone once said “Special Teams at UK is like a box of chocolates, you’re never really quite sure what you are gonna get”. Blocked kicks, run backs, broken coverages, missed blocks, penalties, and missed extra points have cost the current staff at least 6-8 wins (the real total is probably even higher) over the past 6 years. Most fans are able to point to 2-3 bad Special Teams plays during this time that specifically stick in their craws. The blame here falls flatly on the Special Teams Coach. If Steve Ortmayer has lost the ability to relate the Message, then he should change strategy ie. He can always change the players who are guilty of the infringements. If, Ortmayer refuses to make the necessary changes, then maybe he needs to go coach somewhere else. The bottom line is that there should never be as many breakdowns as there are in a season on Special Teams for UK Football—PERIOD.

All of this brings us to the question “Should this Current UK Staff Stay, or Should They Go?” The obvious answer is that they should stay—PERIOD! One of the major problems throughout the history of the program is that it has always been a program of turmoil and change. The current staff came in, and miraculously stabilized a “Never has been program” which was on a serious NCAA probation, with no depth of winning, and seemingly no talent base to draw from.

Should we agree with every decision that this current regime has made during its tenure? No. In fact, there may need to be two or three changes made to the current coaching staff. This would bring in a freshness to the program and allow us to get at least 2 more recruiters who can produce better recruiting results than the ones currently on staff.

What this staff has done at UK is remarkable by any standard. With 1 more win this year, the WILDCATS reach Bowl eligibility for the 4th year in a row, a feat which has never been accomplished in the history of UK Football. Even if there were 100 Bowl Games at the end of each season, that feat, in and of itself is the reason that they deserve several more years of our undying devotion.

For those who think otherwise, look at the state of the program up until the current staff assumed the leadership mantel.


An Overview of the Final 3 Games of 2009 for UK Football

WT Member

Going into the 2009 season, aspirations for this year’s edition of WILDCAT Football were extremely high. The professional prognosticators were predicting what the Big Blue Faithful have seen over the last 3 years (a .500 season) while the optimist (self included) were predicting an 8 or 9 win season for Brook’s CATS.

Usually, a team will take on an identity which will define it for that year. Teams which have been bad teams that experience even moderate success will be known as a “Cinderella Team” (think Texas Tech in 2008). A Team which is known as a historical “Powerhouse” will lose games due to various circumstances and will be known as “Underachievers for that year” (think the Miami Hurricanes late in the 1990’s).

Sometimes, teams take on an identity which is repeated year after year. For example, Penn State is a team that typically wins 9 or so games per year; the UK Wildcats are typically seen as “Cellar Dwellers” in the SEC and are often mocked by the Sports Media Outlets.

As the 2009 season began, the faithful were once again looking towards the coaching staff to change the environment that had come to define Wildcat Football under the current regime. As the season progressed, this team came to look like many of the other teams from the last 35 years with almost everyone proclaiming “Same old CATS” in one accord (A label much deserved over the history of the program, but somewhat undeserved over the last 3-4 years due to the 3 consecutive Bowl wins by UK).

The factors which led to the cynicism of this years team are the same as always: no real leadership on the field (outside of Randall Cobb), injuries (Locke would have also been a leader but has been banged up much of the season; Other injuries included M Johnson, J Jeffries, M Hartline, T Lindley etc), bad game plans (by both Offensive and Defensive Coordinators and Head Coach alike), motivation by the players (admitted to by the coaching staff—total lethargy may be the best term), bad special teams play (again this year), blown opportunities, bad scheduling (an open date after the 1st game of the season), and Quarterback Conflict (say what you want but this has probably been the defining issue for this team.

Some of the more defining moments on the field for this team have been the intimidating blow out by the Florida Gators (again), the Galloping Ghost of Halloween (Anthony Dixon of Miss. State), and the heartbreaker at South Carolina (in all fairness, it was a toss up game that the CATS could have won).

The positives for the season include: more depth and talent at all positions, the Out Of Conference Winning Streak (18 cupcakes and counting), getting a talented Freshman QB substantial playing time (at the expense of an M Hartline injury), breaking one of the silly losing streaks (Auburn-1st at Auburn since 1961 and 1st against Auburn since 1966), and developing some of the younger talent for the future (which is never a bad thing).

As the CATS enter the Final 3 Games, they will eventually be what define this year’s edition of Wildcat Football. If the CATS win out all 3 games (that is a big IF), the season will be seen as a huge success and the Staff will be seen as having taken this team to the “Next Big Step” in Football Success. If the team loses out (somewhat possible), the restless will become even more vocal and will come to expect at least major changes within the Staff. Any combination and moderate Staff changes will pacify the restless and probably buy at least 1 more year of grace from the Blue Nation.

The next UK foe is archenemy Vanderbilt (Vandy) in Nashville. Both teams are historically bad and looking to earn Bowl births for the 2nd consecutive year. The culmination of the 2008 season had KY winning its 3rd straight bowl and Vandy having its 1st Bowl Win in over 40 yrs. The teams are typically seen as evenly matched, and the early line has Vandy by the Home Field points (-3). Vandy’s defense has carried their team and looks to shut down an anemic Wildcat Offense while the CATS will look to establish dominance in the trenches by running the ball. M Hartline returns to practice this week and may again be named as the Starting QB by game time. The KY defense looks to return the favor on the Vandy Offense which is probably worse than Kentucky’s. Kentucky usually comes out lethargic against lesser teams, but look for the CATS to smell blood and Bowl eligibility in this one and win out over the Commodores by 10-15 points.

The 2nd game is against the Mark Richt Bulldogs at “The Hedges” in Athens. The Dogs are having problems of their own and believe it or not, the CATS match up better than usual with them. The Dog defense is down this year, their O-Line is in a shambles, at this point, they have no real threat at Running Back, and the only playmaker they seem to have is A. J. Green their talented Wide Receiver (with a QB which can not get him the ball). If the CATS control the Run Game of the Dogs, they will come home with the “W”. If the CATS come out flat, the CATS will again come home with their tails tucked between their legs amidst controversy and turmoil. If the CATS get blown out, the Staff will be expected to do some serious explaining. Eventhough the game is an away game look for the CATS to win this one by less than 10 points and run their record to 7-4.

The final game of the season pits the CATS against their arch nemesis the Tennessee Volunteers (this game is really only a rivalry on the UK sideline, UT sees the game as a Statement Game, and usually punishes and embarrasses the CATS annually). Lane (Kiffin) has righted the Vol’s Ship and gotten the offense on track. If the Vols take the CATS for granted, the CATS can pull an upset, but Tennessee has a great ground game (the CATS might have actually won this game earlier in the season when UT was looking for an identity) and the CATS have not shown that they are ready for an attack like this one from Knoxville. If Kiffin gets the lead, and the CATS lay down look for him to run up the score and use this game to make a another Statement to the Big Blue Nation and to the rest of the SEC. Tennessee will win and probably win big (more than 2 TDs) running the CATS record to 7-5, enough for a bowl bid but not what many expected at the beginning of the season.

Monday, November 09, 2009

UK Football Headline Links 11/9/09

Around the SEC Football Links 11/9/09

Saturday, November 07, 2009

UK Football: UK beats EKU 37-12 Links

What I Saw vs. Clarion

WT Member

It's hard to say anything bad about a team that wins by 65 points, but I will try to be objective.

I'll start with the positives.

I saw John Wall put everyone on notice. He's here. He is going to be an absolute star in the DDMO. He looks as if God came to Coach Cal and said, "Build the best basketball player for your system", and Cal came up with John Wall.

Defensively, I saw a team that is going to cause a lot of problems for opposing teams. We are long. I saw many Clarion jumpshots come up short due to them trying to adjust their shot to get over the long arms of our defenders.

I saw the DDMO begin to come together right in front of our eyes. Every possession, we began to look more and more comfortable in the offense.

I saw Patterson's ability to step outside and play away from the basket. Something I've felt he should have been doing more of the past two years.

I saw 50% shooting from 3 point range. If we can shoot well from behind the arc, this offense will be very tough to stop. After last night, I feel a lot more confident in our ability to knock down some 3's.

I saw John Wall show great court vision. He sees the court better than any point guard we've had since Rondo.

I saw DeMarcus Cousins prove his naysayers wrong, once again. His knock has always been that he doesn't play hard. I've yet to see that from Cousins. He plays very aggressive defense. He looks very good playing in the middle of our full court press.

I saw terrific passing down low from Cousins. Not only is he going to be a dominate scorer, but he is a great passer down low, and can dish it off when getting double teamed.

I saw Perry Stevenson play with a passion and determination that we've been lacking the past 2 years. He hustles more than anyone on this team, and that alone will get him some minutes.

I saw, speaking of hustle, a team full of guys who hustle. Diving after every loose ball, fighting for every rebound, etc. I haven't seen this much hustle on a Kentucky team since 98'. We have about 6 guys who play the game the way Chuck Hayes played the game.

I saw a very good free throw shooting performance. 25-30 as a team. The knock on Coach Cal has always been that his teams cannot shoot free throws. If we can continue to shoot anywhere around the 75% mark, it will be a huge bonus for this team.

Now for the negatives, which I saw very few...

I saw Daniel Orton, in his short time in this game, fail to be aggressive yet again. Orton needs to be more assertive down low if he's going to succeed.

I saw Darnell Dodson, once again, take too many bad shots. I've seen a lot of good out of this kid as well, but he has never seen a shot that he didn't like.

I saw a team who seemed to still be a little out of control. But, I think with time we will be more crisp in our offense. I'm not too worried about the lack on control, yet. If we still look like this in January, then I'll be very concerned.

I saw a few times where we failed to get back on defense. We definitely need work on our transition defense.

Overall, I feel much better today than I felt Tuesday morning after the Campbellsville game. I saw a team continue to grow, and begin to really come together. I think we're in for a special season.

UK Hangs A '100+' against Clarion-Links

UK Football: UK vs EKU Headlines