We're just 7 games into this young season, and the Kentucky Wildcats are sitting at a record of 5-2, probably right around where most level-minded UK fans figured they'd be. Even so, what has Big Blue Nation learned about their young team?
First off, this is a MUCH different UK team than last year. When the starting 5 is on the court, every single one of those kids won't hesitate to shoot a wide open 3-pointer. Last year, Wall, Cousins, even Bledsoe at times, would take the ball right to the basket for a contested lay-up/dunk. But that mentality is history. Brandon Knight, Darius Miller, Doron Lamb, Terrance Jones, Deandre Liggins, and Josh Harrelson will shoot the 3, and won't even hesitate, even if there is a hand in their face.
That kind of confidence from beyond the arc is a great thing. Even a deadly thing.
If the shots are falling....
So we've learned that this team, who are very undersized in most games, might develop the reputation of "live by the 3, die by the 3." Which won't have the Bluegrass State complaining...unless dying by the 3 becomes more prevalent than living by it.
The team's post-presence is nearly absent. Josh Harrelson is my early selection for Hustle Award/Most Improved/Biggest Heart/Doing Everything He Can With the Tools He Has award. But you know what, at this level of basketball, and for this particular program, it just isn't enough so far. God bless the kid, he's doing everything he can (along with Eloy Vargas), but the results simply aren't there right now. The University of North Carolina just worked UK in the post-play, something that has all of Big Blue Nation worried for the rest of the season. Unless....
Dare I say it....
Enes Kanter is re-instated by the NCAA and granted his eligibility back. I have none, absolutely ZERO, inside sources on this appeal process, but there are plenty of UK fans that are hoping he'll be re-instated. I know that he was ruled "permanently ineligible", but if there's one thing I've learned about the NCAA, it's that consistency is not always their 'bread and butter.' But as of now, this team without Kanter, so we'll continue.
Brandon Knight is NOT John Wall, and he doesn't need to be. However, he needs to value the possession on EVERY possession. John Wall was explosive, and he was tough to defend. But Brandon Knight needs to be intelligent, and savvy, which is as tough, if not tougher, to defend.
Terrance Jones - kid can score. Kid can block. Kid can rebound. But can he do it consistantly, and against good teams?
Will the real Darius Miller please stand up? Come on now, kid, give us some consistency. You've got, arguably, the most potential on the team. Coach Cal needs to find a way for Darius to put all the pieces together, and to turn this puzzle into an elite scoring machine.
DeAndre Liggins - you're doing great! Keep up the intensit on defense, knock down open shots, and run the court in transition. That's your game, keep playing within that game and we'll be good.
Press? Full-court press? Half-court traps? Please Coach Cal, let's speed the game up. We're too small to play half-court defense for 80 minutes. We're too young. We're too foul-plagued. We need to speed up the game. Run the other team's post-players off the court. Use our speed to create turnovers. This is where our success will be found!
As always, GO CATS!
I'm done here. Thank you, and keep on truckin', Big Blue Nation