Monday, November 29, 2010

Kentucky vs Boston....A Preview

Kentucky vs. Boston University
UK leads 2-0

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Kentucky vs Boston University….11/30/10 Tuesday 7PM...FS South/BBSN/ESPN 3

Boston Terriers

Location: Boston, Mass
Enrollment: 31,766
Arena: 7,200

Head Coach: Patrick Chambers
Career Record: 21-14 (60%) One Season

2009/10 Record: 21-14
2009/10 America East Record: 11-5
2009/10 Postseason: 2-1 (CBI)

2010/11 Record: 4-3

Northeastern 66 Boston 64
Boston 76 George Washington 67
Villanova 82 Boston 66
Boston 58 Marist 37
Hampton 51 Boston 50
Boston 66 Nevada 57
Boston 66 Cornell 61


3 PT%-33.9%

Probable Starting Lineup PPG

John Holland G/F 6’5” Sr…….17.9
Patrick Hazal F 6’6” Jr………..5.0
Darryl Partin G 6’6” Jr………..10.3
Jake O’Brien 6’8” Jr…………..9.9
D.J. Irving G 6’0” Fr…………..7.1

Boston University, not to be confused with Boston College of the ACC, returns 3 starters from last season. The Terriers best player is John Holland who led the conference in scoring last season averaging 19.2 PG. Holland is a terrific player and would likely start on many Division 1 teams. Thus far this season, Holland is leading the team in scoring and takes 26% of the shots. Holland is a solid rebounder for his size….shoots 35.4% from long range while leading the Terriers in steals.

Hazal and O’Brien are the leading rebounders…..while Irving is the leading assist Terrier with 21. The Terriers have good experience, but are not a big team…..and with the exception of Holland….don’t have any top notch players.

As a point of interest…..Boston just defeated Cornell which has ex UK player, Mark Coury. Coury scored 9 points for Cornell and was a starter.

UK returns from Maui after defeating Oklahoma and Washington, but were taken to the woodshed by U Conn. The Cats now know that they have a lot of improving to accomplish…. both offensively and defensively. All in all, the loss to U Conn was a very valuable learning experience for these young Cats.

Brandon Knight, a very talented Cat, must improve his overall play…as his early season stats are not good…..FG%-41.1%....3 Point %-26.5%.....FT%-57.1%.....14 Assists compared to 23 TO’s. Knight has too often over penetrated and taken bad shots. He knows he must be the catalyst for the offense….getting all the Cats involved in the offense. Of course, Brandon isn’t the only Cat that has played out of control….namely Liggins and Lamb. Miller must get the ball more often as he is shooting the rock extremely well this season….47.7%....and 9-19 from the perimeter.

One Cat that has already brought his A game…is Terrence Jones who is playing at a spectacular level……averaging 21.2 PPG……50% FG%....46.2% from the perimeter…..leads team in rebounds with 10.2……has 14 blocks…..8 steals. The only chink in Jones game is his FT shooting which is a dismal 55.3%.

Unquestionably, there is an abundance of talent on the UK team, but it is a young team that will need to work hard week by week to master the offense and defense that coach Cal wants UK to achieve. It will take time, but these Cats after being embarrassed by U Conn will be more than willing to do what’s necessary to correct the early season mistakes.

The Boston game will allow these young Cats to show coach Cal some needed improvement in their overall game…..and I believe we will see a much less selfish team…..and instead more passing and less playing out of control.

I see UK defeating Boston by 25 points. GO CATS!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kentucky vs Oklahoma....A Preview

Kentucky vs. Oklahoma
UK leads series 2-0
11/22/10 Monday 5:30/4:30 (ESPN2)
2010 Maui Invitational

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Enrollment: 30,092
Location: Norman, Okla
Arena: 12,000

Head Coach: Jeff Capel
Career Record: 161-92 (63.6%) 8 Seasons
At Okla-82-51 (61.7%) 4 Seasons

2009-10 Record: 13-18
2009-10 Big 12 Record: 4-12
2009-10 Postseason Record: None

2010-11 Record: 3-0

Okla 77 Coppin St. 57
Okla 71 NC Central 63 OT
Okla 82 Texas Southern 52


Probable Starting Lineup

Andrew Fitzgerald F-6’8” So…..PPG-15.3
Nic Thompson F-6’9” Jr………..PPG-6.0
Cade Davis G-6’5” Sr………… PPG-12.7
Steven Pledger G-6”4” So……...PPG-16.7
Cameron Clark G/F 6’6” Fr…….PPG-8.0

Oklahoma returns only one starter off last season’s disappointing 13-18 Sooner team. As a result, Oklahoma is an inexperienced team starting a freshman and two sophomores. On the plus side….the Sooners have added some nice talent and have good size throughout the lineup. The Sooners are off to a nice 3-0 start, but the competition has been lesss than stellar. Thus far, Fitzgerald, Pledger and Davis have been the leader scorers….all three in double figures. Davis is off to a good start hitting 42.1% from 3 point range. Thompson and Fitzgerald are the leading rebounders….while Thompson and Pledger lead the Sooners in assists

A prime reason for Oklahoma's poor season last year was very poor team chemistry which Capel found to be draining mentally and emotionally. Now the Sooners are essentially a new team and there is optimism that this will be a much better year. Time will tell….and coach Capel will now get a good opportunity to see where his team is fundamentally and chemistry wise as he faces ranked Kentucky and other good teams in the Maui Invitational.

Kentucky arrives in Hawaii with a 2-0 record and a very solid win over Portland. UK shot 55% including 44.4% from the perimeter….hitting 8-18 against the Pilots. The Cats once again moved the ball well with only 11 TO’s. In addition.UK out rebounded Portland and hit 15-20 FT’s. All in all, an impressive road win for these young Cats.

Individually, game ball to Darius Miller who garnered 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 block shots…..terrific game by Miller. Importantly, Brandon Knight had another solid game hitting for 21 points, but had only one assist. Great defensive job from Liggins who really shut down the Pilots best long range shooter as Stohl finished with 9 points on 1-7 from long range. Terrance Jones, playing before his home fans, didn’t have a great game, but he did contribute 12 points and showed signs of greatness with some terrific moves.

Josh Harrellson got his 2nd start of the season and he didn’t disappoint….pulling down 12 rebounds, adding 6 points and having zero TO’s in 23 minutes….nice effort from Josh. Also, Vargas added 4 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes… the pivot got 16 rebounds and 10 points from the duo of Harrellson and Vargas…not bad….not bad at all.

While UK has looked very good in it’s first two games against questionable talent….they will very likely get a much truer picture of their strengths and weaknesses in the 3 games at Maui when they face more talented teams then they have faced thus far. When UK leaves Maui….we will all see whether UK’s ranking is too low or too high….or whether they even deserved to be ranked….at least at this point in the season.

Although Oklahoma is not ranked, they are bigger and more athletic then the two teams UK has faced. The game will be a good first test in Maui. I like the Cats to get their 1st win at Maui by defeating the Sooners by 11 points.GO CATS!

UK Basketball: What I Saw vs Portland!

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What I Saw vs. Portland

The Positives -

  • This team is way ahead of where our freshmen were a year ago. While we obviously don't have the athleticism that we had a year ago, this seems to be gelling much quicker than a year ago.
  • The basketball IQ for this team is off the charts. This early last year, we were still seeing very questionable decisions from our Freshmen, especially Bledsoe and Cousins, and even Wall at times. We are making far less mental mistakes.
  • Josh Harrellson - 6 points, 12 rebounds. He is buying what Coach Calipari is selling. He's not flashy, and he won't show up big in the box score, but I love what I saw out of Harrellson tonight. He's completely happy with anchoring down the middle, grabbing boards, and picking up some garbage points on offensive rebounds and loose balls.
  • Terrence Jones - He started off slow, with only 2 points in the first half. A lot of freshmen will let a slow start disrupt the rest of their game. Jones stuck with his game, didn't question himself, and ended up with a solid game with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks.
  • Speaking of Terrence Jones, I absolutely loved how he reacted to Coach Calipari taking him out of the game after the situation under the basket. We all saw DeMarcus Cousins last year, pout and throw fits after something like that. Jones, went over, sat on the bench, cooled down. He showed a lot of maturity there.
  • And, speaking of the situation under the basket, I believe it was DeAndre Liggins who came over, and cooled down Jones immediately after it happened. I've been very hard on Liggins during his time at Kentucky, but I can now say he's becoming one of my favorite players on this team. I've never seen a player accept his new role the way Liggins has, and that speaks volumes for Calipari as a coach.
  • Liggins is one of the best defenders in the country. Completely shut down Stohl last night. One of the best shooters in the country, and Liggins never let him get into a rhythm, and limited him to 9 points on 2 of 9 shooting. You can't say enough about the defensive performance put on by DeAndre last night. It won't show up in the box score, but Liggins is the key to this team. We will go as far as Liggins takes us. His ability to take a teams main offensive threat away is such a great thing to have.
  • Brandon Knight is the "quietest" scorer I have seen in a long time. What I mean by that is, if you didn't see the box score, and you didn't keep track of Knight's points, you would have never guess Brandon put up 21 points last night. The kid is special.
  • We can shoot the basketball! How refreshing is that to hear after last years 3 point struggles? 8-18 last night. 3-4 from Daron Lamb, 3-4 for Darius Miller, and 2-5 from Brandon Knight. I also love that we are hitting the guy trailing on fast breaks for wide open 3's a lot. Any 3 pointer in transition is a huge momentum boost.
  • Darius Miller is much improved from last year. He has the confidence that I have never seen from Miller. What a stat line last night. 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks. Again, the improvement from Darius Miller just shows what a great coach Calipari is.
  • We have quick hands on defense. We're always looking for the steal. Going to have a lot of fast break points this year.

The negatives -
  • Terrence Jones absolutely has to stop being so quick to pull the trigger on the 3 point shot. He only shot two last night, but they were two bad shots. His best game is the mid-range game, 10-15 feet from the basket, use it!
  • Eloy Vargas. I knew he wasn't going to put up huge numbers, and I'm fine with that. But, he looks like he never has any idea where he's supposed to be on the offensive end of the court.
  • Stacey Poole. I understand he's buried behind a lot of talent, but what is this guy doing wrong in practice that he can only get 2 minutes, at the end of the game, when we're playing 4 games in 6 days, and we only have 10 guys dressed, including Polson?
  • Lack of depth. If Stacey Poole can't at least be a role player for this team, we are in serious trouble here. 10 guys played last night, but of them, Poole had 2 minutes, and Polson had 2 minutes, in a 31 point blowout, so you can't expect them to contribute in close games. How far can we go with an 8 man rotation?
  • I saw Darius Miller get lazy a few times on the defensive end. I don't like to see guys rest on the defensive end of the court. This is not like Darius Miller, but it is a negative from last night that I need to point out. I saw a few times where Miller failed to close out on a jump shooter and instead lazily jogged towards him. I will give Darius the benefit of the doubt that it won't happen again, but it was a concern last night.
- Overall, I was very impressed with the things we were able to do last night. As you know, going into this match-up, I was very concerned. That was a good Portland team we just beat on the road. I'm very pleased with that we have been able to do this year so far. Now, on to Maui!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kentucky vs Portland....A Preview

Kentucky vs. Portland
UK leads series 1-0
11/19/10 Friday @ 10:30PM/9:30PM (ESPNU)
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Location: Portland, Oregon
Enrollment: 3,300
Arena: 4,852
Head Coach: Eric Reveno
Career Record: 58-69 (45.7%) 4 Seasons at Portland

2009-10 Record: 21-11
2009-10 West Coast Conf Record: 10-4
2009-10 Postseason: 0-1

2010-11 Record: 3-0

Portland 80 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 60
Portland 75 UC-Davis 60
Portland 89 Florida Atlantic 75


Probable Starting Lineup

Nemania Mitrovic-G 6’5” So….PPG-9.7
Luke Sikma-F 6’8 ‘ Sr…………PPG-11.3
Kramer Knutson-F/C 6’9” Sr…. PPG-8.7
Eric Waterford-G 6’1” Jr………PPG-8.7
Jared Stohl-G 6’1” Sr………… PPG-16.7

The Portland Pilots are in the same league as Gonzaga so they play some decent competition. The Portland game with UK was set up by the Cats so that Terrance Jones could have a game in his home town of Portland. The game will be played in the Rose Garden where the NBA Portland Trailblazers play….it seats around 20,000.

Importantly, the Portland Pilots ranked 5th in the nation last season on 3 pointers…hitting a dazzling 40.7% from the perimeter. The Pilots Jared Stohl hit 98- 3 pointers for an incredible 47.8%. In his first 3 games this season, Stohl has hit 9-20 from long range.

The leading rebounder for Portland is 6’8” senior Luke Sikma who is averaging 13 rebounds thus far this season. In the win over Florida Atlantic, Sikma hauled down 19 boards. As a point of interest…Luke is the son of former NBA star Jack Sikma who played 14 seasons with Seattle and Milwaukee.

Kentucky opened their season with a solid 88-65 win over East Tennessee St. The Cats hit a terrific 13-26 from the perimeter. Individually, Jones gets the game ball with 25 points, 12 rebounds and zero TO’s in 35 minutes. Great game for the freshman with the only negative occurring at the charity line where Jones hit only 3-10. Knight added 17 points with 5 assists and Lamb garnered 20 points….so all 3 freshmen had solid contributions. Liggins added 14 points and 6 assists.

Overall, it was an impressive initial game for these young Cats. The passing was very impressive as UK moved the ball quickly with few TO’s. Unfortunately, the pivot is a concern…..with Enes Kanter unlikely to play this season….UK must look to Harrellson and Vargas to improve their defense and rebounding in the pivot. Josh did pull down 7 rebounds in the opening game but picked up two quick fouls as did Vargas. Vargas is obviously behind the rest of the team in conditioning as he missed the early conditioning and the Canadian trip. Hopefully, as the season progresses, both Harrellson and Vargas can show solid improvement offensively and particulary defensively.

UK now goes on the road to Portland where they will face another experienced team starting 3 seniors and a junior. Perimeter defense must be a huge focus for the Cats because the Pilots are an outstanding 3 point shooting team….and some Cat must make sure the Pilots long range great shooter Stohl doesn’t get open looks at the basket. Hopefully, the Cats worked on their free throw shooting as they were horrible in the opening game hitting only 9-23 or 39%

Portland will be a stiff early season test for this very young UK team…. playing on the road before 20,000. My prediction is UK by 10 points. GO CATS!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

UK's 2011Basketball Recruits early signing info

Early signing period starts today as Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer all four are ready to sign with UK Wednesday afternoon.

Reports are that:

  • Mike Gilchrist will sign with UK today at a family celebration. Time and place of announcement/signing hasn't been made public yet.
  • Marquis Teague will sign a traditional letter of intent to UK at 3 p.m. today at Pike Freshman Center in Indy.
  • Anthony Davis will sign today at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. Chicago time) at his school.
  • Kyle Wiltjer will sign with UK at 5:30 p.m. EST (2:30 PST) today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

UK vs East Tennessee St....A Preview

Kentucky vs. East Tennessee State
UK Leads Series 3-0

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Kentucky vs East Tennessee State….A Preview (Friday..11/12/10) 7PM

East Tenn St.

Location: Johnson City, Tenn
Enrollment: 14,500
Arena : 6,500

Head Coach: Murry Bartow
Career Record: 241-170 (58.6%) 13 Seasons
At East Tenn St: 138-87 (61.3%) 8 Seasons

2009-10 Record: 20-15
2009-10 Atlantic Sun Record: 13-7
2009-10 Postseason Record: 0-1 (Lost in NCAA 1st Round)

Probable Starting Lineup

Mike Smith- F-6’6” Sr.—PPG-9.3
Justin Tubbs-G-6’3” Sr.—PPG-12.1
Micah Williams-G-6’4” Sr---PPG-12.7
Tommy Hubbard F-6’4” Sr---PPG-13.9
Isiah Bown C/F-6’8” Jr---PPG-7.8

Despite losing a player to a fatal car accident and a number of key injuries, ETSU still had a decent year and made the NCAA tourney….only to lose to UK 100-71 in the 1st round.

This season ETSU returns it’s top 6 scorers and gets back Mike Smith who only played 4 games last season before his season ending injury. Smith had been projected as ETSU leading scorer last season. ETSU’s projected starting lineup includes 4 seniors and one junior so they will be an extremely experienced team. Importantly, coach Bartow used his bench frequently with 11 players averaging over 10 MPG., so the Buccaneers will be a deep team in experience.

As a note of interest…coach Murry Bartow is the son of Gene Bartow who previously coached at UCLA and initiated the UAB basketball program.

Importantly, coach Calipari recruited another talented number one class for this season….and it’s a good thing….because UK suffered huge losses losing Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe and Orton. The Cats will obviously be an entirely different team likely utilizing the DDMO far more often than last season when they had a great inside presence in Cousins, Patterson and Orton.

As expected with all the new talent coming on the roster….there are a host of questions regarding this very talented, but very inexperienced UK team. What will the team chemristy be?....Will this team play inspired defense?....How about rebounding?....Will they master the DDMO?....Can this team score consistently from the perimeter?.....Will they minimize TO’s?....Can they shoot a high percentage from the FT line? The answers to these questions will determine how successful these young Cats will be this season.

Who will start and what will be the top 7-8 players in rotation? My guess is that UK might start the most talented 5 players….and that would be as follows:


Of course, while that lineup provides the best offensive lineup….it has a disadvantage in not have a big pivot man. So, depending on the matchups….Harrellson and Vargas will often need to get quality time. I look for Hood to beat out Poole for the primary 7-8 rotation.

Although, UK will depend heavily on the incoming freshmen, it’s important to recognize that Miller and Liggins, both juniors, bring a lot of experience….and both have significantly improved in their UK careers. Miller will be counted on to provide a more aggressive offense and Liggins brings an incredible defensive intensity.

The Cats have an outstanding PG in Knight….a terrific forward in Jones….and a talented guard in Lamb. Still they all have much to learn. Harrellson, although not a great player, has definitely improved and will need be effective on the boards. Vargus has potential, but thus far he has not been as aggressive as he needs to be in the pivot.

Overall, I really like the talent on this UK team….I am optimistic that if we get mostly positive answers to my previous questions….this UK team will have a successful season.
The main worry is the pivot and the lack of overall depth. A key injury or foul trouble could be a huge problem for coach Cal.

In facing ETSU, this young UK team will be at a disadvantage in experience, so they will need to play smart and hard. Make no mistake, this ETSU opening game will not be a walk in the park…as this young UK team will get a taste of Division 1 basketball from a veteran team set on upsetting UK at Rupp arena.I like the Cats over ETSU by 12 points.

Lastly, as you can see, my comments and analysis excluded Kanter because his eligibility is unknown. If Kanter is eligible.....then I truly feel that this UK team has a legitimate shot at the NCAA Final Four….and perhaps an 8th NCAA championship. Without Kanter, UK will likely be a Sweet 16 team. GO CATS!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Video: Marquis Teague Prepares for the Season

Marquis Teague Prepares for the Season - Metro Indy Basketball Fall League Highlights