Friday, February 27, 2009

Kentucky vs LSU......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs LSU 2/28/09
Saturday 4PM....CBS

Location: Baton Rouge, LA.
Enrollment: 29, 815
Arena: 13,215

Coach: Trent Johnson
Career Record-159-121 (56.8%) in 9 seasons
At LSU-This is his first season

2007-08 Record: 13-18
2007-08 SEC Record-6-10 (4th-West)

2008-09 Record-24-4
SEC Record-12-1

LSU 79 Jackson St. 65
LSU 77 Alcorn St. 45
LSU 91 Northwestern St. 60
LSU 64 Centenary 58
LSU 92 Troy 57
LSU 84 Cal State Fullerton 63
LSU 87 Grambling St. 41
LSU 68 Nicholls St. 56
Texas A&M 72 LSU 61
LSU 62 McNeese St. 59
LSU 64 Washington St 52
LSU 81 LouisianaLafayette 79
LSU 90 Southeastern Louisiana 61
Utah 91 LSU 61
Alabama 65 LSU 59
LSU 85 South Carolina 68
LSU 83 Mississippi 51
LSU 81 Mississippi St 57
Xavier 80 LSU 70
LSU 79 Tennessee 73
LSU 79 Arkansas 69
LSU 80 Georgia 62
LSU 76 Alabama 62
LSU 97 Mississippi St. 94
LSU 73 Mississippi 66
LSU 79 Auburn 72
LSU 81 Florida 75

LSU STATS | UK STATS
Scoring-77.0 | Scoring-76.1
FG%-46.0% | FG%-48.5%
3 Point FG%-37.9% | 3 Point FG%-35.6%
3 Point FG Per Game-5.7 | 3 Point FG Per Game-5.9
FT%-72.3% | FT%-77.7%
Rebounds-39.8 | Rebounds-38.0
Assists-15.9 | Assists-16.2
TO’s-12.4 | TO’s-17.8
Steals-8.0 | Steals-6.5
Blocks-6.2 | Blocks-6.9

LSU Probable Starting Lineup

Marcus Thornton-G-6’4” Sr…....PPG-20.9
Tasmin Mitchell-F-6’7” Jr……...PPG-16.6
Bo Spencer-G-6’1” Soph……….PPG-11.6
Chris Johnson-C-6’11” Sr………PPG-8.4
Garrett Temple-G-6’6” Sr………PPG-7.4

Terry Martin-G-6’6” Sr…………PPG-4.7
Quintin Thornton-F-6’8” Sr…….PPG-3.0

Coach Trent Johnson is LSU’s new head coach this season….having served as head coach at Nevada and Stanford previously. Coach Johnson inherited a very experienced LSU team with 5 of their top 7 players being seniors…..a starting lineup of 3 seniors, a junior and a soph. The Tigers have utilized their experience and considerable talent to be leading the SEC with a 12-1 record and are now 18th ranked in the nation. The two big guns for LSU are Marcus Thornton and Tasmin Mitchell who lead the Tigers in scoring and rebounding. Thornton is also a terrific 3 point shooter hitting 62-152 for 40.8%. The other Tiger main 3 point threat is Bo Spencer who has hit 44-107 for a nifty 41.1%.Senior Garrett Temple has dished out a team leading 117 assists while also having a team leading 54 steals. The Tigers come into Rupp Arena winners of 12 of their last 13 games….only losing to 13th ranked Xavier. After losing their opening SEC game to Alabama, the Tigers have reeled off a very impressive 12 straight SEC victories. LSU is obviously a very confident team, a very talented team and a very experienced team. The Tigers will be a very tough opponent for the Cats.

UK after achieving a solid win over Tennessee, laid an egg in Columbia where South Carolina totally embarrassed the Cats. This was a big game and for whatever reason, UK simply didn’t show up. Losses are never easy to deal with, but the loss at South Carolina was a bitter defeat, particularly to get completely outplayed and out coached! The terrible loss to the Gamecocks is a definite blow to UK’s NCAA chances. The Cats must find a way to defeat LSU, Florida and Georgia or at least win 2 of the 3 remaining SEC games plus win a minimum of 2 SEC tourney games. Once again, it could be white knuckle time as the NCAA teams are announced.

Hopefully, coach Gillispie and the Cats can regroup and put the South Carolina loss behind them and play a great game against LSU. An LSU win would be huge! The $64 question is which UK team will show up Saturday? UK must play a terrific game to win and they are certainly capable of that…and hopefully the Rupp Arena crowd becomes a great 6th man as the Cats will need all the help they can get.. Keeping my fingers crossed that the Cats come to play and upset the Tigers at Rupp Arena. GO CATS!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kentucky vs South Carolina......A Preview Rd 2

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs South Carolina 2/25/09
Wednesday at 7PM
TV: Raycom, ESPN Full Court
Stream: Yahoo.com

South Carolina

Location-Columbia, SC
Enrollment-27,065
Arena-18,000

Coach-Darrin Horn
Career Record-111-48 (69.8%) in 5 seasons
Career Record at South Carolina-This is his first season at SC

2007-08 Record-14-18
2007-08 SEC Record-5-11 (5th-East)

2008-09 Record-19-6
2008-09 SEC Record-8-4

South Carolina 89 Jacksonville State 76
South Carolina 86 Winthrop 63
South Carolina 75 USC Upstate 53
South Carolina 85 Gardner-Webb 70
Charleston 82 South Carolina 80
South Carolina 84 Princeton 58
South Carolina 72 Furman 48
South Carolina 90 North Carolina Central 43
South Carolina 80 Citadel 66
South Carolina 75 Presbyterian 56
Clemson 98 South Carolina 87
South Carolina 85 Baylor 84
South Carolina 78 Wofford 61
South Carolina 68 Auburn 56
LSU 85 South Carolina 68
Tennessee 82 South Carolina 79
South Carolina 70 Florida 69
South Carolina 82 Mississippi 71
South Carolina 86 Vanderbilt 76
South Carolina 78 Kentucky 77
Florida 97 South Carolina 93
South Carolina 79 Georgia 68
South Carolina 75 Alabama 73
Mississippi St. 75 South Carolina 70
South Carolina 82 Arkansas 78 (OT)

South Carolina STATS

Scoring-79.8
FG%-45.8%
3 Point FG%-38.1%
3 Point FG Per Game-6.9
FT%-63.2%
Rebounds-36.4
Assists-11.3
TO’s-14.1
Steals-9.5
Blocks-4.4

UK STATS

Scoring-76.7
FG%-49.0%
3 Point FG%-35.7%
3 Point FG Per Game-6.0
FT%-78.1%
Rebounds-37.8
Assists-16.4
TO’s-17.7
Steals-6.6
Blocks-7.0

Probable Starting Lineup

Dominique Archie-F-6’7” Jr……….PPG-11.5
Mike Holmes-F-6’7” Soph…………PPG-11.2
Sam Muldrow-C-6’9” Soph………..PPG-6.3
Devan Downey-G-5’9” Jr…………..PPG-20.0
Zam Fredrick-G-6’0” Sr……………PPG-15.3

Other Key Players

Brandis Raley-Ross-G-6’2” Jr……..PPG-6.6
Austin Steed-F-6’8” Soph………….PPG-4.1
Evaldas Baniulis-F-6’7” Jr…………PPG-7.0

Darrin Horn, after leading Western, Ky to the 2nd round in the NCAA, replaced Dave Odom as South Carolina coach for this season. In August, Horn took the Gamecocks to the Czach Republic, Slovakia and Austria for a four game basketball tour. Coach Horn pointed to the trip as being very important in terms of the practice time, understanding the new system and spending time with the team. Importantly, the Gamecocks return 4 starters and 7 letterman. South Carolina is led by their 2 terrific guards….Downey and Fredrick….who are the two top scorers. Downey is one of the very best players in the SEC….averaging 20.0 PPG…..and shooting a solid 45.4% from the field. Downey also leads the team in assists and steals. South Carolina has 4 players who average in double figures and 8 players who average 5 points or more. In addition, the Gamecocks are a very good 3 point shooting team hitting 38.1%.....in fact, Baniulis has hit 42-83 3 pointers for a smoking hot 50.6%. Downey has hit 44-117 3 pointers for a solid 37.6% and Fredrick has hit 46-127 3 pointers for 36.2%. Coach Horn loves to push the ball…..play uptempo….and Horn and Fredrick are quick guards who love this kind of play. South Carolina averages 80 PPG and get scoring from a number of different players which make them hard to defend.

South Carolina has lost only 1 game at home this season and that was to Clemson. The Gamecocks are 8-4 in the SEC having won 7 of their last 9 SEC games and no SEC team has beaten them at home. The Gamecocks having defeated UK at Rupp arena in a squeaker 78-77 will try to sweep the Cats Saturday.

Kentucky is coming off of one of their best games of the year in defeating Tennessee at Rupp arena. Patterson returned to the lineup after his ankle injury and played a solid game. The Vols, as expected, focused their defense on stopping Meeks and while they did hold Meeks to 14 points, the Cats were able to garner important scoring from several players….most notably, with Darius Miller having his best game of the year with 17 points. When the Cats can obtain good offense from other players, besides Meeks and Patterson, they become a vastly improved team. Certainly, UK will need to see continued solid and improved play from Miller and others as they head to Columbia and finish out the SEC season.

The Gamecocks will be a tough opponent on their home floor…..they are a very good shooting team, especially from long range where they average 7 3 pointers per game….….and they have 3 excellent long range marksmen. The Cats must play tough on the perimeter and take away open shots. The Gamecocks are a very quick team and average nearly 10 steals per game, so the Cats must take good care of the ball and minimize TO’s. Importantly, UK enjoys a big advantage in FT shooting as South Carolina is hitting only 63% compared to the Cats 79%.

A win at Columbia is very important to UK as they try to win the SEC East and add to their resume for a NCAA bid. The Cats appear to be coming together as team offensively and defensively and IMO, are ready to finish the SEC season on a very successful note. I see a UK win at Columbia…..close….but the Cats payback the Gamecocks. GO CATS!

SEC Standings/Remaining Schedules 2/24/09

Here's the SEC Standings as of 2/24/09 and each SEC teams opponents for their remaining SEC Schedule..

East
Kentucky 19-8 8-4 | 2/25 @ South Carolina, 2/28 LSU, 3/4 Georgia, 3/7 @ Florida
Florida 21-6 8-4 | 2/24 @ LSU, 3/1 Tennessee, 3/4 @ Mississippi St., 3/7 Kentucky
South Carolina 19-6 8-4 | 2/25 Kentucky, 2/28 @ Vanderbilt, 3/5 Tennessee, 3/7 @ Georgia
Tennessee 16-10 7-5 | 2/25 Mississippi St., 3/1 @ Florida, 3/5 @ South Carolina, 3/8 Alabama
Vanderbilt 16-10 5-7 | 2/25 @ Georgia, 2/28 South Carolina, 3/4 @ LSU, 3/8 Arkansas
Georgia 10-17 1-11 | 2/25 Vanderbilt, 3/1 @ Arkansas, 3/4 @ Kentucky, 3/7 South Carolina

West
LSU 23-4 11-1| 2/24 Florida, 2/28 @ Kentucky, 3/4 Vanderbilt, 3/7 @ Auburn
Mississippi St. 17-10 7-5 | 2/25 @ Tennessee, 2/28 Auburn, 3/4 Florida, 3/7 @ Mississippi
Auburn 17-10 6-6 | 2/25 Mississippi, 2/28 @ Mississippi St., 3/3 @ Alabama, 3/7 LSU
Mississippi 15-11 6-6 | 2/25 @ Auburn, 2/28 Alabama, 3/4 @ Arkansas, 3/7 Mississippi St.
Alabama 14-12 4-8 | 2/25 Arkansas, 2/28 @ Mississippi, 3/3 Auburn, 3/8 @ Tennessee
Arkansas 13-12 1-11 | 2/25 @ Alabama, 3/1 Georgia, 3/4 Mississippi, 3/8 @ Vanderbilt

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kentucky vs Tennessee......A Preview Rd 2

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Tennessee 2/21/09
Saturday at 1PMEST/12NOONCST CBS

Tennessee

Enrollment-26,400
Arena-21,678
Coach-Bruce Pearl
Career Record-394-108 (78.4%) in 16 years
77-24 (76.2%) in 3 seasons at Tennessee

2007-08 Record-31-5
2007-08 SEC Record-14-2 (1st-East)
2007-08 Postseason-2-1 (Lost in Sweet 16)

2008-09 Record-16-9
2008-09 SEC Record-7-4

Tennessee-114 Chattanooga 75
Tennessee 91 Tennessee-Martin 64
Tennessee 76 Middle Tennessee State 66
Tennessee 78 Siena 64
Tennessee 90 Georgetown 78
Gonzaga 83 Tennessee 74
Tennessee 87 North Carolina-Ashville 69
Temple 88 Tennessee 72
Tennessee 80 Marquette 68
Tennessee 79 Belmont 77
Tennessee 89 Louisiana-Lafayette 62
Kansas 92 Tennessee 85
Gonzaga 89 Tennessee 79 (OT)
Tennessee 86 Georgia 77
Kentucky 90 Tennessee 72
Tennessee 82 South Carolina 79
Tennessee 76 Vanderbilt 63
Memphis 54 Tennessee 52
LSU 79 Tennessee 73
Tennessee 79 Florida 63
Tennessee 74 Arkansas 72
Auburn 78 Tennessee 77
Tennessee 79 Georgia 48
Tennessee 69 Vanderbilt 50
Ole Miss 81 Tennessee 65

Tennessee STATS

Scoring-79.1
FG%-45.8%
3 Point FG%-31.3%
3 Point FG per game-6.6
FT%-67.9%
Rebounds-38.5
Assists-16.6
TO’s-13.6
Steals-7.0
Blocks-3.7

Kentucky STATS

Scoring-76.7
FG%-48.7%
3 Point FG%-35.5%
3 Point FG per game-6.0
FT%-77.9%
Rebounds-38.2
Assists-16.1
TO’s-17.8
Steals-6.5
Blocks-7.1

Probable Starting Lineup

Tyler Smith-F-6’7” Jr…………PPG-17.6
Josh Tabb-G-6’4” Jr……. PPG-3.3
Wayne Chism-C-6’9” Jr…. . PPG-13.2
J. P. Prince-G-6’7” Jr….. PPG-9.6
Scotty Hopson-G-6’7” Fr…… PPG-8.9

Other Key Players

Renaldo Woolridge-F-6’8” Fr.…..PPG-3.5
Bobby Maze-G-6’2” Jr………….PPG-8.5
Cameron Tatum-F-6’6” Fr.…. PPG-8.0
Brian Williams-C-6’10” Soph…..PPG-5.0

Since Jodie Meeks hung 54 points on the Vols in Knoxville, Tennessee has gone 6-3 in the SEC and are currently tied with UK, Florida and South Carolina at 7-4 in the SEC East. The Vols have been up and down this season like a number of SEC teams….…..playing well at times and then laying an egg with poor play in other games. Tennessee is coming off of a bad 16 point loss to Ole Miss.

The Vols are led by all SEC forward, Tyler Smith, who is averaging 17.6 PPG while grabbing 5.7 boards per game. Smith is very athletic, a good passer and always plays hard…...and is always a tough matchup for opposing teams. Wayne Chism leads the team in rebounds averaging 8.4 per game and is the Vols 2nd leading scorer with 13.2 per game. J.P. Prince is shooting a team leading 54.8% from the field and leads in steals with 33 for the season. Freshman Scotty Hopson leads the Vols in 3 point shooting hitting 32-85 for 37.6%. Overall, Tennessee is shooting a solid 45.8% from the field, but they are not a good 3 point shooting team hitting only 31.6%. The Vols have handled the ball pretty well this season averaging only 13.6 TO’s.

The UK game is obviously important to Tennessee’s NCAA hopes as they are still not certain of an NCAA bid…..they must finish the season with more wins. Bruce Pearl will certainly devise a strategy to make certain that Meeks doesn’t have another record breaking game against them. Look for a great effort from Tennessee as they attempt to grab the lead in the SEC East.

Kentucky comes off a disappointing loss at Vanderbilt….a game they played without Patrick Patterson. Vandy did a superb job on Jodie Meeks holding him to a 6-21 shooting night…….but, still Meeks hit his average, . While the Cats got solid performances from Galloway and Stewart, there simply wasn’t enough offense generated by the other Cats to make up for the absence of Patterson. It was disappointing to see Stevenson play a poor game and Porter commit 4 TO’s in his 15 minutes on the court. Importantly, the Cats did play hard intense defense and never gave up.

Now, UK needs to regroup, hopefully with Patterson, but with or without Patterson, other players need to significantly step up their offense. UK continues to live on the edge depending so heavily on two players to provide the offense. Miller is starting to show increased confidence on the court and has very good offensive potential. Galloway is playing well and has added some decent scoring. A pleasant surprise was A.J. Stewart who made all his 4 FG attempts, including a 3 pointer, and fouled out with 11 points. The problem for UK this season is getting consistent performances from players other than Meeks and Patterson.

The season is now wrapping up as the Cats face Tennessee at Rupp Arena. It is an exceedingly critical game because UK can ill afford anymore home losses. The Cats are in the same boat as several SEC teams….trying to finish the remaining SEC games successfully and assure themselves of an NCAA bid. I would feel more confident if Patterson was healthy, but UK has the advantage of playing in Rupp Arena and hopefully the UK fans become a vocal 6th man and cheer these Cats on to victory. I look for a much closer game than in Knoxville and while no one expects Meeks to light up the Vols for 54 points, it will be very important for Meeks to exceed his 26 point average and shoot well. Stay tuned….the Cats and Vols should play a exciting close game. I’m going with the Cats in a nail-biter….GO CATS!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SEC Standings/Remaining 2009 Schedules

Here's the SEC Standings as of 2/19/09 and each SEC teams opponents for the remaining SEC Schedule.. Also you'll notice that Kentucky and Tennessee plays every team that's tied for 1st place in the SEC East one more time, the SEC East should get very interesting starting Saturday..Home games in bold..

East
Kentucky 18-8 7-4 | 2/21 Tennessee, 2/25 @ South Carolina, 2/28 LSU, 3/4 Georgia, 3/7 @ Florida
Florida 20-6 7-4 | 2/21 Vanderbilt, 2/24 @ LSU, 3/1 Tennessee, 3/4 @ Mississippi St., 3/7 Kentucky
South Carolina 18-6 7-4 | 2/21 Arkansas, 2/25 Kentucky, 2/28 @ Vanderbilt, 3/5 Tennessee, 3/7 @ Georgia
Tennessee 16-9 7-4 | 2/21 @ Kentucky, 2/25 Mississippi St., 3/1 @ Florida, 3/5 @ South Carolina, 3/8 Alabama
Vanderbilt 16-9 5-6 | 2/21 @ Florida, 2/25 @ Georgia, 2/28 South Carolina, 3/4 @ LSU, 3/8 Arkansas
Georgia 10-16 1-10 | 2/21 @ Mississippi, 2/25 Vanderbilt, 3/1 @ Arkansas, 3/4 @ Kentucky, 3/7 South Carolina

West
LSU 22-4 10-1 | 2/21 Auburn, 2/24 Florida, 2/28 @ Kentucky, 3/4 Vanderbilt, 3/7 @ Auburn
Mississippi St. 17-9 7-4 | 2/21 @ Alabama, 2/25 @ Tennessee, 2/28 Auburn, 3/4 Florida, 3/7 @ Mississippi
Auburn 17-9 6-5 | 2/21 @ LSU, 2/25 Mississippi, 2/28 @ Mississippi St., 3/3 @ Alabama, 3/7 LSU
Mississippi 14-11 5-6 | 2/21 Georgia, 2/25 @ Auburn, 2/28 Alabama, 3/4 @ Arkansas, 3/7 Mississippi St.
Alabama 13-12 3-8 | 2/21 Mississippi St, 2/25 Arkansas, 2/28 @ Mississippi, 3/3 Auburn, 3/8 @ Tennessee
Arkansas 13-11 1-10 | 2/21@ South Carolina, 2/25 @ Alabama, 3/1 Georgia, 3/4 Mississippi, 3/8 @ Vanderbilt

My observations of Coach Gillispie

WrathofRupp
WT Administrator

Having watched Billy Gillispie guide UK through close to two seasons, I have noticed several things which provide encouragement and several the give cause for concern.

Let's start with the cause for concern topics.

  1. The man is stubborn. He will often times refuse to make game changes to counter what an opposing coach does to exploit a weakness in the UK line up, defense or offensive scheme.
  2. He will often play less talented players that may have practiced harder than his more talented players. A good example of this is Landon Sloane. That is not to knock any UK player but scholarship players are that for a reason.
  3. His lack of tact with the media on occasion. Recruits are watching.....and so are the parents. "Nuff said"
The reasons I am optimistic about our coach.
  1. I have seen more offensive development of this year and last years teams than I saw at any time since Rick Pitino was here. Disclaimer: the author is not attempting to knock Coach Smith. Coach Smith had his strengths as well but he was more defensive minded. The plays being set up to break Meeks loose for shots, the inbounds passes last season that beat UT when they were clearly much more talented, and the ball movement are huge improvements over the 3-4 previous years before Billy's arrival.
  2. The huge improvement in recruiting effort. Great players make good coaches great, not the other way around. The incoming talent is better than it has been in several years. Bogans, Prince, Fitch, Hawkins, Rondo, Crawford and Morris were great UK talents but these players were spread out too far for UK to remain dominant. Also factor in the Woo, Shag, Perry and and Thomas class of all 3* talent and we see why UK is in the situation it is now talent wise compared to UNC, Duke, UCLA, much of the Big East...et al.
  3. The fire Billy has for the game. A coach needs that hunger and fire. Once it's lost, it takes a dramatic change to get it back....i.e. new job. Billy has it and let's hope he keeps it for a while and a few NCAA titles.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reviewing the Vandy Game And Much More!

Lwcat
WT Administrator

First, let me say that winning at Vandy is never easy and especially with Patrick Patterson unable to play. However, this game IMO was winnable. The score was tied 30-30 at the half. Then in the 2nd half I saw Billy Gillispie get flat outcoached by Kevin Stallings. Vandy raced to a quick 9 point lead and it was obvious to everyone that the Commodores were having their way in the paint. I saw no real adjustments by Gillispie. Josh Harrellson who had played only 7 minutes did not see the floor in the 2nd half..... even though UK had no one who could physically match up with 6'10" Ogilvy. Yes, I know that Harrellson is not a great defensive player, but he does bring decent offense......and why not allow Josh to play some on the 2nd half to see if he could help prevent the too often easy baskets that Vandy was getting. Not at least giving Harrellson an opportunity to play in the 2nd half makes zero sense to me. He certainly couldn't have done any worse as Vandy was having their way on the inside. Why the devil recruit the kid and then when you really need a big man to match up with Ogilvy.....you sit his butt on the bench for the entire 2nd half. Also, why stay with a man to man that was not working and players were getting in foul trouble. Why not at least try some sort of zone defense? If it doesn't work....go back to a man to man. For goodness sake.....made an adjustment....try something different. How about more pressing.....do something!

This was not a great Vandy team....far from it.....it is a young inexperienced Vandy team and they cleaned UK's clock in the 2nd half. BTW, I agree the officiating was poor and the Cats got some bad calls, but the officials didn't cost UK the game.

Galloway plays a great 25 minutes against Florida.....then gets only 3 minutes against Arkansas.....and against Vandy he play a solid 30 minutes. UK has played 25 games and Harris and Porter remain in the starting lineup.....Harris simply provides little or no offense....against Vandy he played 24 minutes and had only 4 free throws. For the year, Harris is averaging 3.3 PPG and shooting 15% from the 3 point line. Porter has been up and down this season, but continues to commit too many TO's....9 TO's in the past 2 games. Harris and Porter play hard and are great kids, but they no longer deserve to be starters. It's time to start Galloway and Miller. Also, it's way past time for a regular rotation. I have followed UK basketball for many years and I have never seen such bizarre substitutions....players getting minutes one game.....playing well..... and not seeing the floor the next game or getting very little time.

IMO, this team has not been improving as it should have this season. Yes, I fully understand that the Cats still need more talent, but this team should be further along by this late date in the season.

This Vandy loss hurt and the remaining schedule is far from easy.....for the Cats to make the NCAA, they have got to garner some more wins including in the SEC Tournament. Right now, the Cats are close to being on the bubble or close to it.

I have always tried to be a straight shooter with my posts on WT and my intention has only been to express my frustration, concern and unhappiness as to where this team is 25 games into the season. IMO, this UK team has the talent to be a top 25 team! Certainly, it is not my intention to pull my support from Coach Gillispie. He has proven to be a good coach previous to his coming to UK. Plus, importantly, Coach Gillispie has definitely improved the recruiting and he deserves to be fully judged after he has been coach for 3 years. However, UK fans have every right to see a UK team improving each season and it hasn't happened yet this season! I remain hopeful that the Cats finish the season on a successful note and make the NCAA.

Below are some insightful comments from Matt Jones on KSR.

"As a UK fan, last night was depressing. I got up before the sun rose and the Jones and Bruce caravan began its trip around the state bringing forth legal help to its citizens throughout the day. We returned to Louisville late only to watch a game against Vandy that could not have been more frustrating. I would be remiss if I didn't note the unbelievably poor officiating (a common theme in all SEC games throughout the season) that took a thin UK bench and made it thinner, culminating in foul trouble for nearly all of the Cats’ players (AJ Stewart of all people fouled out). While it is worth noting that the Cats played as a jump shooting team while the ‘Dores took the ball to the basket more often (who thought you would ever read that sentence), the game nevertheless was a series of ticky-tack, questionable calls that made me wish for the days of John Clougherty and Don Rutledge. The Cats lost on their own, but the officiating was putrid.

Nevertheless, the story of the game once again was the bizarre decisions made by the current UK coaching regime. In a game in which a young Vanderbilt team has only one real way of beating you (on the inside), the Cats’ best opportunity to stop AJ Ogilvy sat the bench for nearly all the game. Josh Harrellson started, played 3 minutes with one mistake and then found only sporadic time on the court again. Why? Coming on the heels of the game in Fayetteville in which Kevin Galloway played three minutes for no particular reason, it reinforced my belief that the Gillispie substitutions patterns alternate between poor and irrational. There are reasons to play virtually all of the players that are in the rotation at various times. But why would you take your somewhat slow, but big and bulky center and NOT play him often in the one game you are playing against a slow, big and bulky center who is killing you inside? These players all make mistakes….why have some players mistakes be the end all be all and some players’ mistakes be forgiven? It is hard to understand.

Finally, watching the game continued a frustrating, and at times infuriating, tradition of running virtually no plays for Jodie Meeks Most of Meeks offense comes from (1) taking a guy one-on-one, (2) running around the offensive end in circles, hoping to lose his man or (3) the pick and roll, with the irrational hope that both men will not come out on Meeks (and bizarrely, sometimes they don't). Very rarely is a set piece designed, the goal of which is to get Jodie the ball in a position to score. Most of his offense is either self-created or in an NBA-style two-man game to get off a shot. That is great for an NBA game but in college, where the defenses are less sophisticated and the players less athletic, running set pieces for Meeks (a la JJ Redick at Duke) could get him even MORE open looks. How can that never be done?

The issues of who to blame for bad games for Kentucky usually make cries of “Billy has no players” to “Get rid of him, he cant coach.” Neither is true. Billy Clyde is a good coach who has the potential to win big. But in order to do so, I think he has to firmly adjust his principles to a new reality of Kentucky basketball and players/coaches on an elite level. Right now what we have makes little sense. I can take losing because of a lack of talent or even mistakes. But losing for irrational decisions that seem to have little to no purpose….that is difficult to accept."

Note:
AP Photo Courtesy of Mark Humphrey

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Vanderbilt 2/17/09
(Tuesday at 9PM) ESPN/ESPN360

Vanderbilt

Enrollment-6,378
Arena-14,316
Coach-Kevin Stallings
Career Record-293-179 (62.1%) in 15 seasons
At Vnderbilt-170-116 (59.4%) in 9 seasons

2007-08 Record-26-8
2007-08 SEC Record-10-6 (3rd-East)

2008-09 Record-15-9
2008-09 SEC Record-4-6

Vanderbilt 74 Morehead St. 48
Illinois 69 Vanderbilt 63
Vanderbilt 65 Middle Tennessee St. 57
Vanderbilt 83 Central Arkansas 62
Vanderbilt 72 Drake 57
Vanderbilt 71 Virginia Commonwealth 66
Illinois-Chicago 74 Vanderbilt 55
Georgia Tech 63 Vanderbilt 51
Vanderbilt 78 Alabama A&M 55
Vanderbilt 71 South Florida 52
Vanderbilt 83 Tennessee Tech 63
Vanderbilt 68 Furman 49
Vanderbilt 84 St. Francis (PA) 55
Vanderbilt 78 Massachusetts 48
Kentucky 70 Vanderbilt 60
Vanderbilt 50 Georgia 40
Mississippi St. 73 Vanderbilt 66
Tennessee 76 Vanderbilt 63
Florida 94 Vanderbilt 69
South Carolina 86 Vanderbilt 76
Vanderbilt 82 Auburn 75
Vanderbilt 79 Alabama 74
Vanderbilt 71 Ole Miss 61
Tennessee 69 Vanderbilt 50

Vanderbilt STATS

Scoring-69.2
FG%-44.9%
3 Point FG%-33.0%
3 Point FG-6.0
FT%-70.7%
Rebounds-36.5
Assists-12.8
TO’s-14.9
Steals-5.9
Blocks-4.5

Kentucky STATS

Scoring-77.2
FG%-49.0%
3 Point FG%-35.6
3 Point FG-6.0
FT%-77.9%
Rebounds-38.7
Assists-16.4
TO’s-17.9
Steals-6.6
Blocks-7.2

Probable Starting Lineup

Steve Tchiengang-F-6’8” Fr………..PPG-3.8
Jeffery Taylor-F-6’7” Fr……………PPG-12.3
A.J. Ogilvy-C-6’11” So……………PPG-14.6
Jermaine Beal-G-6’3” Jr………...…PPG-12.2
Brad Tinsley-G-6’3” Fr……………PPG-10.5

Other Key Players

Festus Ezeli-C-6’11” Fr……………PPG-4.5
Lance Goulbourne-G/F-6’7” Fr……PPG-7.0
George Drake-G-6’4”Jr……………PPG-4.6
Darshawn McClellan-F-6’7” So…...PPG-2.5
Charles Hinkle-G/F-6’6” Fr……….PPG-2.2

Vanderbilt is coming off of a loss to Tennessee, but has won 3 of their last 4 SEC games. The Commodores lost to Kentucky 70-60, in January, at Rupp Arena, but didn’t have their leading scorer…A.J. Ogilvy….who was injured. Vandy has defeated UK in Nashville 5 straight years including a 41 point blow out victory last season. The Dores are led in scoring and rebounding by Ogilvy who is shooting 52% from the field. Taylor, Beal and Tinsley all are scoring 10 plus points per game. Taylor is shooting 50% from the field and is an excellent rebounder. Beal and Tinsley are the two primary 3 point shooters…Beal hitting an a very good 43.4% from long range….while Tinsley is hitting a solid 38.8%. Vandy is a young team, with no seniors, but they have talent and can be very dangerous when the 3 point shots are dropping. Coach Kevin Stallings has continued to do a solid job in his 10 seasons at Vandy and, unquestionably, he will have the Commodores ready for the Cats.

UK has rebounded from 3 straight SEC loses with a big win over Florida and an important win over Arkansas at Fayetteville. The Cats are now tied for the SEC East lead and know they face a tough task in defeating Vandy in Nashville. Certainly, UK will be remembering the humiliating loss they suffered in Nashville last year and that should serve as excellent motivation when the Cats take the floor. Unfortunately, it is likely that UK will face the Commodores without the services of Patrick Patterson…….as Coach Gillispie recently indicated that he didn’t want Patterson back on the floor until he was 100%.....and it is highly unlikely that Patterson will be 100% by Tuesday. Josh Harrellson will likely get the call as starter in the pivot and it will be important for Josh to avoid early fouls. Ramon Harris had his best game in a long while against Arkansas and Michael Porter appears to have found his long range shooting eye in the past two games. Hopefully, Porter and other Cats step up offensively to help take some of the defensive pressure off of Jodie Meeks. Meeks had another tremendous game at Arkansas and the Cats will surely need Meeks to at least hit his scoring average in Nashville…..and hopefully more. The last two games have revealed a UK team that is playing with more intensity and confidence…..and they will need to continue that solid effort in Nashville.

The recipe for victory remains the same for UK…...play solid intense defense for 40 minutes, especially on the perimeter…...minimize TO’s…….have several players step up their offense to help Meeks. Although, playing Vandy in Nashville is never easy…..and will definitely be a challenge without Patrick Patterson……this is a winnable game. Certainly, defeating Vandy on the road would be a huge win and a big step toward winning the SEC East. I look for a highly motivated UK team that puts an end to the 5 game losing streak in Nashville. Cats win a close game in Nashville! GO CATS!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SEC Standings 2/15/09

Here's the SEC Standings as of 2/15/09 and each SEC teams opponents for the week of 2/15/09-2/21/09..

East

Kentucky 7-3 18-7 | 2/17 @ Vanderbilt, 2/21 Tennessee
South Carolina 7-3 18-5 | 2/18 @ Mississippi St, 2/21 Arkansas
Tennessee 7-3 16-8 | 2/18 @ Mississippi, 2/21 @ Kentucky
Florida 6-4 19-6 | 2/18 Alabama, 2/21 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt 4-6 15-9 | 2/17 Kentucky, 2/21 @ Florida
Georgia 1-9 10-15 | 2/18 Auburn, 2/21 @ Mississippi

West
LSU 9-1 21-4 | 2/18 @ Arkansas, 2/21 Auburn
Mississippi St. 6-4 16-9 | 2/18 South Carolina, 2/21 @ Alabama
Auburn 5-5 16-9 | 2/11 Arkansas, 2/14 Mississippi St.
Mississippi 4-6 13-11 | 2/18 Tennessee, 2/21 Georgia
Alabama 3-7 13-11 | 2/18 @ Florida, 2/21 Mississippi St
Arkansas 1-9 13-10 | 2/18 LSU, 2/21 @ South Carolina

Kentucky-Arkansas Headlines 2/15/09

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kentucky vs Arkansas......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Arkansas 2/14/09
Saturday at 1PM CBS

Arkansas

Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Enrollment: 18,647
Arena: 19,200

Coach-John Pelphrey
Career Record-103-79 (56.6%) in 6 seasons
Career Record at Arkansas-23-12 (65.7%)

2007-08 Record-23-12
2007-08 SEC Record-9-7 (2nd-West)

2008-09 Record-13-9
2008-09 SEC Record-1-8

Arkansas 91 Southeastern Louisiana 87
Arkansas 68 California-Davis 59
Missouri St. 62 Arkansas 57
Arkansas 79 South Alabama 77
Arkansas 86 Florida A&M 61
Arkansas 80 Texas Southern 61
Arkansas 98 North Carolina Central 70
Arkansas 89 Austin Peay 80
Arkansas 67 Stephen F. Austin 51
Arkansas 95 Northwestern St. 56
Arkansas 96 Oklahoma 88
Arkansas 86 North Texas 75
Arkansas 67 Texas 61
Mississippi St. 70 Arkansas 56
Ole Miss 74 Arkansas 65
Florida 80 Arkansas 65
Auburn 73 Arkansas 51
Arkansas 89 Alabama 80
LSU 79 Arkansas 69
Tennessee 74 Arkansas 72
Mississippi St. 86 Arkansas 77
Auburn 75 Arkansas 62

Arkansas STATS

Scoring-75.7
FG%-44.7%
3 Point FG%-33.8%
3 Point FG Per Game-6.5
FT%-65%
Rebounds-38.8
Assists-13.4
TO’s-13.9
Steals-7.4
Blocks-3.0

Kentucky STATS

Scoring-77.1
FG%-48.9%
3 Point FG%-34.8%
3 Point FG Per Game-5.8
FT%-78.5%
Rebounds-38.8
Assists-16.5
TO’s-18.0
Steals-6.5
Blocks-7.2

Probable Starting Lineup

Michael Washington-F-6’10” Jr…..16.5
Stefan Walsh-G-6’2” Jr……………12.6
Rotnei Clarke-G-6’1” Fr………… 11.0
Michael Sanchez-F-6’8” Fr………..6.1
Jason Henry-G/F-6’6” Fr………….7.2

Other Key Players

Marcus Britt-G-6’2” Soph…………3.5
Brandon Moore-F-6’9” Fr…………2.1
Courtney Fortson-G-5’11” Fr……..14.6 Currently Suspended)

John Pelphrey, a beloved former UK player, is in his 2nd season as Arkansas coach. Pelphrey had a very successful initial season with the Hogs, but only one starter returns from last year’s team….Stefan Welsh. As a result, this has been an up and down year with this very young Razorback team. Early in the season, Arkansas had huge home victories over Oklahoma and Texas, but the Hogs have struggled mightily in the SEC losing 8 of 9 SEC games and are at 1-8 in the SEC. After defeating Alabama, Arkansas has lost 4 straight SEC games. The problem has been the inexperience and inconsistency of playing a lot of freshmen.

The Hogs big man, Michael Washington, is the teams leading scorer and rebounder. Freshman PG, Courtney Fortson, has been suspended from the UK game. Fortson, is lighting quick, and, at times, can be spectacular as a PG, but along with his 142 assists, Fortson has committed 95 TO’s along with a bevy of bad game decisions. Fortson has the potential to be an outstanding PG, but his youth and inexperience have hurt the Razorbacks at times this season. On the other hand, Fortson will be missed by Arkansas in the UK game because of his tremendous abilities to penetrate the defense and score. The likely starting guards will be Stefan Walsh and Rotnei Clark……both average double figures in scoring. Walsh is shooting a solid 35.5% from 3 point range while Clark, a previous possible UK recruit, is shooting 38% from long range. There is young talent on this Razorback team….. and when they play at home in Bud Walton arena before 19,000 fans they can be a very tough and dangerous opponent…...and Coach Pelphrey very definitely wants to see his Arkansas team finish this season on a positive note. You can bet that Pelphrey will have his young Razorbacks fired up when the Cats come to Fayetteville.

The Kentucky Wildcats, after 3 straight SEC loses, found their mojo, and won an exciting, very hard fought game, against a very good Florida Gator team at Rupp Arena. Importantly, the Cats found other players beside Meeks and Patterson, to play important roles in the victory. Unquestionably, Kevin Galloway played his finest game as a Wildcat…..logging a season high 25 minutes and contributing 6 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Josh Harrellson contributed 11 points with zero TO’s and Michael Porter hit 3 very important 3 pointers. Perry Stevenson also had solid contributions as well. This game demonstrated that the Cats must have other players step up and play aggressively to help Meeks and Patterson….if they are to have success with the remaining SEC schedule.

It was terrific to see the hardnose intense play by the Cats in the Florida game. Importantly, UK must play with that mentally tough mindset to finish the SEC season on a very positive note. The one negative note from the Florida game is the ankle injury to Patterson. While no decision has been made regarding Patterson’s availability for the Arkansas game, it is very likely that Patterson will miss at least a game or two.

The Florida win was very important from a confidence standpoint and, hopefully, is a template for how this young team must play as they finish the season……..all hands on deck…….and everyone plays hard for 40 minutes! Road wins in the SEC are seldom easy and despite Arkansas’s 1-8 SEC record, the Cats must know that a Pelphrey coached team in Bud Walton arena will bring their A game…..and so must the Cats! I look for a close game, but a UK win. GO CATS!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Kentucky vs Forida.......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Florida 2/10/09
Tuesday at 9EST/8CST PM (ESPN)

Florida

Location: Gainesville, Fla.
Enrollment-51,520
Arena-12,000

Coach-Billy Donovan
Career Record-320-135(70.3%) in 14 seasons
At Florida-285-115 (71.3) in 12 seasons

2007-08 Record-24-12
2007-08 SEC Record-8-8 (4th East)
2007-08 Postseason-3-1 (Lost in NIT semifinals)

2008-09 Record-19-4

Florida 80 Toledo 58
Florida 81 Bradley 58
Florida 64 Southern Utah 50
Syracuse 89 Florida 83
Florida 86 Washington 84
Florida 86 UMKC 65
Florida 73 Florida A&M 58
Florida State 57 Florida 55
Florida 94 Florida Gulf Coast 60
Florida 89 UCF 61
Florida 88 Georgia Southern 81
Florida 74 WU 45
Florida 78 Stetson 57
Florida 68 North Carolina St. 66
Florida 95 Longwood 69
Florida 78 Ole Miss 68
Florida 68 Auburn 65
Florida 80 Arkansas 65
South Carolina 70 Florida 69
Florida 94 Vanderbilt 69
Florida 83 Georgia 57
Tennessee 79 Florida 63
Florida 97 South Carolina 93

Florida STATS

Scoring 79.4….SEC Scoring-(78.5)
FG%-49.1%
3 Point FG%-36.8%
3 Point FGPG-8.0
FT %-68.8%
Rebounds-35.2
Assists-17.7
TO’s-12.8
Steals-8.5
Blocks-2.8

Kentucky STATS

Scoring-77.5….SEC Scoring-(72.0)
FG%-49.0%
3 Point FG%-34.6%
3 Point FGPG-5.7
FT %-79.2%
Rebounds-38.8
Assists-16.6
TO’s-18.0
Steals-6.5
Blocks-7.2

Probable Starting Lineup

Nick Calathes-G-6’6” Soph………PPG-18.1
Alex Tyus-C-6’8” Soph…………..PPG-12.4
Chandler Parsons-F-6’9” Soph…...PPG-10.4
Dan Werner-F-6’7” Jr…………….PPG-9.2
Walter Hodge-G-6’0” Sr………….PPG-7.7

Other Key Players

Erving Walker-G-5’8” Fr………….PPG-9.3
Kenny Kadji-F/C 6’10” Fr……..….PPG-5.0
Ray Shipman-G/F 6’4” Fr…………PPG-4.0

Billy Donovan brings his 19-4 Florida Gators into Rupp Arena with a 6-2 SEC record. A close look at the Gators 4 losses reveals no really bad losses…..a 6 point loss to Syracuse….a 2 point loss at Florida St…….a 1 point loss at South Carolina……and a 16 point loss at Tennessee. Make no mistake….this is a good Florida team led by terrific sophomore Nick Calathes who is the leading scorer averaging 18.1 PPG. Calathes is also the leading 3 point shooter hitting a very good 42.7% while leading the Gators in assists and steals. Importantly, Florida has five good 3 point shooters….Calathes-42.7% on 93-131…Parsons-30.8% on 28-91…Walker-41.2% on 40-97….Werner-33.8% on 27-80…and Hodge 38.6% on 34-88. In short, the Gators can light it up all over court from the perimeter and can score points in a hurry. Tyus and Parsons are the primary rebounders, although Calathes gets his share of rebounds as well…however, the Gators good size allows rebounding by committee. Overall, this is a good Gator ball handling team. So far, Florida has proven to be a better offensive team than a defensive team, but they have improved greatly, from last year’s NIT team, in all facets of the game. Without question, Billy Donovan will have his Gators ready to play against the Cats…..as always, the UK game is always a big game for Florida…… and except for a defeat in Lexington last season…..the Gators have had lots of success in recent years against Kentucky. This should be another great matchup this season.

A little over a week ago, UK was 5-0 in the SEC and then the wheels came off with 3 straight losses to Ole Miss, South Carolina and Mississippi St…..the last two losses were at Rupp Arena. In those 3 defeats, it was obvious that very effective defenses had been implemented to minimize the scoring of Meeks and Patterson. Unfortunately, the Cats were unable to get any significant offensive help from other UK players. Also, very troubling was the poor perimeter defense that has plagued the Cats for most of the year. The first half of the Miss. St game found a UK team playing some of it’s worse basketball of the season and leaving the floor to a chorus of boos from UK fans. As a longtime UK fan, I must say that, while the Cats played poorly, I was exceedingly disappointed to see UK fans behave in such a classless manner! After the loss to Miss. St., we learn that there was an airing out of issues among the players. Hopefully, this team meeting has had a desired positive effect!

Fortunately, UK has had a week off to try and correct the problems that have beset this team. The Cats are at 16-7 and need a strong finish in the remaining 8 SEC games to garner an NCAA bid. The remaining SEC schedule is definitely not easy and the Florida game will be a huge challenge. UK will be facing a very good perimeter 3 point shooting team and it will be imperative that the Cats make significant improvement in guarding the 3 point line. Every UK fan knows the problems that this UK team continues to struggle with….too many TO’s……poor 3 point shooting from any player not named Meeks…….poor offense from other players aside from Meeks and Patterson……not effectively guarding the perimeter…..recently, poor offensive rebounding……..and not playing with the toughness that Gillispie wants from this team.

The $64 question is what UK team will take the floor against Florida? Will it be a UK team that has come together with confidence and purpose….. a UK team that has finally found it’s mojo…….that will finally start showing significant improvement offensively and defensively? The time is late as we are 23 games into this season….it’s now or never for this UK team! The Florida game is huge…..UK cannot stand to lose 4 straight games and 3 straight games at Rupp Arena!

One thing is for sure…..this UK team needs the support of every fan in Rupp Arena…..they need to hear cheers and not classless boos! This UK team has the talent and players to finish this season strongly in the SEC….but, they must play hard and smart basketball for 40 minutes. I remain hopeful that UK fans will see a UK team with fire in it’s belly that will take down the Gators. GO CATS!

SEC Mens Basketball Standings 2/8/09

Here's the SEC Standings as of 2/8/09 and each SEC teams opponents for the week of 2/8/09-2/15/09..

East
Florida 6-2 19-4 | 2/10 @ Kentucky, 2/14 @ Georgia
South Carolina 6-3 17-5 | 2/14 @ Alabama
Kentucky 5-3 16-7 | 2/10 Florida, 2/14 @ Arkansas
Tennessee 5-3 14-8 | 2/11 Georgia, 2/14 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt 4-5 15-8 | 2/14 @ Tennessee
Georgia 0-8 9-14 | 2/11 @ Tennessee, 2/14 Florida

West
LSU 7-1 19-4 | 2/11 @ Mississippi St, 2/14 Mississippi
Mississippi St. 6-2 16-7 | 2/11 LSU, 2/14 @ Auburn
Mississippi 4-5 13-10 | 2/14 @ LSU
Auburn 3-5 14-9 | 2/11 Arkansas, 2/14 Mississippi St.
Alabama 3-6 13-10 | 2/14 South Carolina
Arkansas 1-7 13-8 | 2/11 @ Auburn, 2/14 Kentucky

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Season at the Crossroads!

Lwcat
WT Administrator

A season that began with hope and optimism has now reached a crossroads.....which could still be a success or a disaster! In fairness, the losses of seniors Bradley and Crawford along with Jasper were huge losses....in terms of talent, experience and leadership. However, having a healthy Meeks and Patterson along with an influx of new recruits, particularly highly ranked recruits in Miller and Liggins..... plus more overall depth.....gave UK fans every reason to believe that this UK team would show solid improvement. Unfortunately, while there have been periods of good play this season, the improvement UK fans had hoped for is not happening.

For me, I had high expectations that this UK team would adopt and execute a tough in your grill defense.....even some full court defense....., but the defense has not been consistently tough and 3 point defense has been terrible. This lack of parameter defense and TO's have been exceedingly costly to the Cats this season.

Offensively, this team simply lacks any outside parameter shooting aside from Meeks......and this is creating a huge offensive problem for UK...... as opponents are simply focusing on stopping Meeks and Patterson. Unfortunately for UK, The defensive focus on Meeks is definitely hurting his offense...in the past 3 losses....Meeks is 15-41 overall for 36% and 6-19 for 3 point range for 31%....these percentages are far below Meeks season percentages.

Make no mistake, the overall performance by UK against Miss. St. was beyond disappointing and it was a very bad loss at Rupp Arena. Obviously, there are problems with this team as evidenced by the post game locker room airing out of issues by the players. None of us were in the locker room, so we don't know what was said by the players, but the fact that such an event occurred shows that there are issues that need to be dealt with ASAP.

I think that while all UK fans are frustrated, including me, by how this season is going, we need to keeps our wits and not overreact. Last season with serious injuries, Coach Gillispie took the Cats to a 12-4 SEC record....the NCAA.....and got coach of the year in the SEC.

Yes, this is a new season.....the Cats, as I mentioned earlier, suffered some big losses from last season.....and this is still a young team that is still lacking some key talent, particularly outside shooting. Among the 4 new players added to the UK team, Liggins and Miller appear to have the most potential.

In regard to Coach Gillispie, I will admit that at times I am puzzled by his starting lineups, rotation and minutes given various players. I am also disappointed in some of his coaching decisions regarding the lack of making tactical changes in defensive and offensive strategy. Still, while it's always fun to be "internet coaches", we must remember that UK has only one coach and that is Coach Gillispie. It is ridiculous to talk about firing Gillispie and calling other coaches. This is Gillispie's 2nd season and he has some very good recruits coming in next year. Unquestionably, Coach Gillispie wants to win as much or more than UK fans......and he will be evaluated by Mitch Barnhart. I will say that after next season, Billy's 3rd at UK, it will have been very important for this storied program to have shown solid evidence of moving forward.....that will be a fair time to pass judgement on Coach Gillispie!

In the meantime, the Cats have a tough remaining SEC schedule and hopefully we see a far improved performance from this UK team in the future. As I said, UK is at a crossroads.....if they come together as a team and play smart and with passion.....the Cats could have good success....if not, the season could end on a very negative note that could cost the Cats an NCAA berth.

Lastly, while I'm not totally happy with Coach Gillispie this season, he still has my full support. GO CATS!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Kentucky vs Mississippi State......A Preview

Lwcat
WT Administrator

Kentucky vs Mississippi State 2/3/09
Tuesday at 7PM
Raycom, (ESPN Full Court)

Mississippi State

Location-Starkville, Miss.
Enrollment-17,039
Arena-10,735

Coach-Rick Stansbury
Career Record-231-125 (64.9%) in 10 seasons ( All at Miss. St.)

2007-08 Record-23-11
2007-08 SEC Record-12-4 (1st-West)
2007-08 Postseason Record-1-1 (Lost in NCAA)

2008-09 Record To Date-14-7
2008-09 SEC Record To Date-4-2

Miss. St. 77 Centenary 55
Miss. St. 78 Louisiana-Monroe 49
Miss. St. 102 North Alabama 61
Miss. St. 84 Fairleigh Dickinson 58
Miss. St. 76 St. Bonaventure 71
Washington St. 63 Miss. St. 52
Texas Tech 77 Miss. St. 73
Miss. St. 76 Alabama St. 67
Charlotte 70 Miss. St. 64
Miss St. 79 South Alabama 60
Cincinnati 75 Miss. St. 63
Miss. St. 74 Nicholls St. 68
San Diego 64 Miss. St. 61 (OT)
Miss. St. 82 Houston 65
Miss. St. 95 Western Ky. 67
Miss. St. 70 Arkansas 56
Miss. St. 83 Alabama 74
Miss. St. 73 Vanderbilt 66
LSU 81 Miss. St. 57
Miss. St. 67 Georgia 61
Ole Miss 67 Miss. St. 63

Miss. St. STATS

Scoring-73.8
FG%-45.3%
3 Point FG%-36.8%
3 Point FG made per game-7.6
FT%-70.1%
Rebounds-37.8
Assists-13.0
TO’s- 14.9
Steals-7.4
Blocks-7.9

UK STATS

Scoring-78.5
FG%-49.7%
3 Point FG%-34.8%
3 Point FG made per game-5.8
FT%-79.2%
Rebounds-38.9
Assists-17.0
Steals-6.5
Blocks-7.4

Probable Starting Lineup

Ravern Johnson-G/F-6’7” Soph……..PPG-12.8
Jarvis Varnado-F/C-6’9” Jr………….PPG-12.7
Barry Stewart-G-6’2” Jr……………..PPG-10.5
Dee Bost-G-6’2” Fr………………….PPG-9.8
Phil Turner-G-6’3” Soph…………….PPG-7.6

Other Key Players

Kodi Augustus-F-6’8” Soph…………PPG-6.5
Romero Osby-F-6’8” Fr……………..PPG-5.8
Riley Benock-G-6’4” Soph………….PPG-2.6
Twany Beckham-G-6’5” Fr…………PPG-2.2

Coach Stansbury had high hopes that this year’s Bulldog team would be a very experienced team, but unfortunately that didn’t happen…….leading scorer Charles Rhodes ran out of eligibility…Jamont Gordon opted to leave early for the NBA, only to not be drafted……..and PG Ben Hansbrough transferred to Notre Dame. As a result, Miss. St. is a young inexperienced team, but, importantly, they do return the SEC’s top shot blocker in Jarvis Varnado and junior guard Barry Stewart. Varnado is an incredible shot blocker….with an astounding 98 blocks thus far this season for 5 blocks per game…. Also, he is a great rebounder averaging nearly 10 boards per game while scoring 12.7 PPG. Despite the key player losses, Coach Stansbury has done a solid job with this young Bulldog team as they currently are 4-2 in the SEC. Miss. St. is led in scoring by Ravern Johnson who is shooting a solid 47.3% from the field and a blistering 53-110 from the 3 point line..for 48.2%. Starters Turner and Stewart are also shooting a good percentage from the 3 point line. Importantly, Miss. St. has 4 starters averaging double figures and several subs have been helpful offensively as well. The Bulldogs arrive at Rupp arena coming off of a tough home loss to Ole Miss 67-63. Despite, their 7 losses, the Bulldogs have only been beaten badly in one game and that was a 24 point loss to LSU. Look for Stansbury to have this young Bulldog team ready to play a tough game against the Cats on Tuesday.

UK, which got off to a great start in the SEC winning their first 5 games, has now lost 2 straight SEC games including a very disappointing loss to South Carolina at Rupp arena.

Unfortunately, the same negative issues that have plagued UK through most of this season keep occurring like “Groundhog Day”. First and foremost is the continuing turnover problem…. as the Cats are averaging 18 TO’s per game with 20 plus TO’s in far too many games….. such as the 21 TO’s in the recent loss to the Gamecocks. In short, UK has shown little or no improvement in ball handling and decision making from November and the Cats are now 2/3’s through the season. It is exceedingly difficult to give away 20 plus scoring opportunities and beat many decent teams. Parameter defense has also continued to be a problem as opposing teams continue to get far too many good looks at the basket. Recently, offensive rebounding by UK has become a nightmare with Ole Miss and South Carolina dominating the offensive boards with too many easy put backs and 3-4 shots at the basket. UK has still not found decent parameter scoring from anyone but Jodie Meeks. When you look at the 3 point shooting of Liggins-8-42 for 19%....Porter-12-43 for 27.9%......Miller-7-33 for 21.2% and Harris-3-17 for 17.6%......you quickly see a team with horrible 3 point shooting and a major offensive problem. Having only one UK player, Meeks, who is a threat from the parameter allows teams to focus their defense on Meeks and challenging other UK players to shoot from the outside…..so far, it’s been a great strategy. On the interior, only Patterson has been consistently effective with Stevenson occasionally helping offensively. Unfortunately, UK is essentially a two man team offensively and that is hurting the Cats. UK fans have been waiting all year for Miller, who is improving, or someone to provide some additional consistent scoring, but, so far, it hasn’t happened.

This game against Miss St. is extremely critical as UK simply can’t stand to lose a 2nd straight SEC game at home. The rest of the SEC schedule will be a definite challenge. The time is getting late for this UK team to start solving some of these continuing problems that are costing them games. If these negative issues continue, the Cats will be facing a number of additional SEC losses and possibly an NIT bid. The time is now for this UK team to play tough defense…….to play smart and eliminate all the silly TO’s and poor shot selection……..to execute on offense and have the right players taking the right shots…..….to get control of the offensive boards…..and hopefully have a player or two start contributing some solid offense aside from Meeks and Patterson. Frankly, I will be surprised and very disappointed if UK doesn’t come out in the Miss St game with a tough attitude and make significant strides in solving these negative issues. If not now…when! This is what Gillispie gets paid for…..get this UK team playing some solid basketball and get back to winning! GO CATS!

SEC Standings and line-up for 2/2/09

Here's the SEC Standings as of 2/2/09 and each SEC teams opponents for the week of 2/2/09-2/8/09..For more info on each SEC team, just click the teams name.

East
Florida 5-2 18-4 | 2/3 South Carolina
Kentucky 5-2 16-6 | 2/3 Mississippi St.
South Carolina 5-2 16-4 | 2/3 @ Florida, 2/7 Georgia
Tennessee 4-2 13-7 | 2/4 @ Arkansas, 2/7 @ Auburn
Vanderbilt 2-5 13-8 | 2/5 Alabama, 2/7 Mississippi
Georgia 0-6 9-12 | 2/4 LSU, 2/7 @ South Carolina

West
LSU 5-1 17-4 | 2/4 @ Georgia, 2/8 Alabama
Mississippi St. 4-2 14-7 | 2/3 @ Kentucky, 2/7 Arkansas
Alabama 3-4 13-8 | 2/5 @ Vanderbilt, 2/8 @ LSU
Mississippi 3-4 12-9 | 2/5 Auburn, 2/7 @ Vanderbilt
Auburn 2-4 13-8 | 2/5 @ Mississippi, 2/7 Tennessee
Arkansas 1-5 13-6 | 2/4 Tennessee, 2/7 @ Mississippi St.