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Dec 30

Henry’s Big Blue Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 4:03 pm | Leave a Comment (1)
Category: Random Notes

I’m already EXTREMELY hyped for this version of the Cats vs. Cards, I think this is going to be one of the better matchups the two teams have had in a while.  The Yum Center is going to be fired up and it will be interesting to see how the Cats handle the raucous environment.  I thought Kentucky handled themselves very well in there only other true road game at UNC, they pretty much controlled the game until the final 5 minutes or so. Each test is a learning experience for these Cats and they’ve learned from both the UCONN & UNC loss to develop into quite an impressive team.

To win this game the Cats will have to,

A. stay out of foul trouble, especially Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight

B. stay out of foul trouble, especially Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight

C. limit the UL 3 pointers.

D. see A & B

In big games like these the 3 point shot really gets the crowd into the game and fuels a team and possible a knockout run. The Cards have ample three point shooters in Knowles, Marra & Kuric, Kentucky needs to limit their attempts and make them put the ball on the floor, rather than being spot up shooters.

Size won’t be a huge factor as both the Cats and Cards match up equally  in that department, the game will come down to how the Cats handle the “big moment” as this will be the biggest game that most of these guys have played in, and whether or not T. Jones and Knight can stay on the floor for at least 30 minutes.

In an emotional game, the Cards will come out hot, but if UK can withstand the early run, I think they can take over the game…in a close one, I say Cats 78 Cards 72

GO BIG BLUE!!!

Dec 29

Battle of the Bluegrass!

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 2:03 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Basketball

Battle of the Bluegrass, Cats vs. Cards, Big Brother vs. Little Brother……whatever you choose to call this game, it’s one of the top rivalries in college basketball. Personally for me, there’s no other game on the schedule that brings goosebumps and excitement like this one does.  I was lucky enough to be involved in 5 UK/UL games (winning 4, i might add) and the atmosphere the week before, during and after the games are just amazing! It’s an overwhelming feeling to pull off a victory, and not just for the players, but for the fans and to give them bragging rights around the state.  The instensity and build up before the game is like an NCAA tourney game. I can recall seeing Mr. Keightley’s face being beet red before my 1st UL game, he wanted that game SO badly that I thought he might suit up!   We’re 2 days away from the next episode of this great rivalry and you can already feel the buzz when talking to people about the game.  Truly one of the great rivalries of all time, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds Friday..

GO BIG BLUE!!!

Dec 28

Henry’s Big Blue Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 2:30 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Basketball

The 9-2 Kentucky Wildcats take the floor this evening against the 4-5 Coppin St. Eagles, in a matchup that’s likely to be another blowout. The competition for the Cats tonight comes in the form of not looking ahead to the HUGE matchup this Friday against the rival Louisville Cardinals. Coach Cal does a good job of keeping his team focused on the task at hand, so I would expect the Cats to come out and handle their business tonight, although we are dealing with 18-21 year old kids and you NEVER know what thoughts are crossing their minds.

I personally keep looking for the Cats to expand their bench, but based on recent press conferences from Cal, I wouldn’t expect that for the rest of the year. It seems he’s going to roll with his top 7 and maybe Polson, Poole, or Hood might sneak in to expand the rotation to 8 players. These are games where you can try to work on things, such as bench play for the future, but Cal sees enough in practice to play the top 7 until about the 5 minute mark tonight, barring ridiculous foul trouble.

Although Coppin St. played UCONN within 12 at UCONN, I don’t see much trouble here this evening for the Cats as our superior talent will overwhelm the Eagles to the tune of 89-61.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!

Dec 11

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 10:55 am | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Basketball

The Cats come home today to take on rival Indiana, this game doesn’t’ take on the meaning that it once did, but IU’s coach, Tom Crean is slowly but surely rebuilding the Hoosiers. Having seen the Hoosiers play recently, he’s got a little ways to go to build his team up to the Cats standards. IU will scrap though, as Crean’s teams usually do and battle inside with Christian Watford leading the charge. The 6’8″ 230 lb sophomore does his damage inside to the tune of 17 points and 5 boards, and give IU it’s best option of knocking of the Cats by getting them in foul trouble.  Indiana doesn’t rely on the three ball much as they like to run their set offense and pound the ball down to Watford. Their second option is the sleek Verdell Jones III, who slashes his way to 14 points per contest.

The Cats enter this contest coming off of, in my opinion, one of the best halves of the season as they COMPLETELY shut down Notre Dame’s offense Wednesday night. If they bring that same intensity, it’ll be a LONG night for the Hoosiers. Their offense let up a little, but they’ll look to getting that shooting eye back. The Cats are shooting a tad bit over 40% from behind the arc, and there’s nothing that gets Rupp Arena more riled up than a barrage of threes. Let’s hope Terrence Jones doesn’t nap before the game, a la UNC, and if he doesn’t the table is set for him to have another double double.

I look for the Cats to come out and dominate the Hoosiers, behind the home crowd,  with the running and shooting of Brandon Knight, and the inside presence of Terrence Jones, the Cats should win this game 80-66.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!

Dec 9

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 12:37 pm | Leave a Comment (5)
Category: Basketball

Kentucky moved its record to 6-2 by knocking off previously undefeated Notre Dame, 72-58 last night, in Freedom Hall. They did it in a manner that caught many by surprise, Defense, and I mean DE-FENSE!!!  I figured it would be an up and down game, which it was, the first twenty minutes, with both teams scoring 40 points each.  But the game slowed down in the second half thanks to Kentucky and their smothering defense.  Where were those poses, Ben Hansbrough, that arm extended holding that follow through, that staring at the crowd after your first 4 or 5 threes hit nothing but the bottom of the net?  Instead, of all the nonsense we saw in the first half from him, we saw bricks and turnovers and bricks and turnovers from him in the second half.  It wasn’t only him, his teammates helped him out as well, as UK limited the Irish to a measly 18 points in the second half.  It was almost shades of UK-Vandy from 2003 when the Cats smothered them along with several foes throughout that year.

The real Terrence Jones stood up, and played a fantastic game, earning my player of the game accolades, by putting up 27 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. He was a man amongst boys, outhustling, out scrapping and overpowering t Notre Dame’s front line, over and over again.  Brandon Knight, rounded back into form as well, adding 20 points and 5 assists while only turning the ball over 2 times. The offense for the Cats ran fluidly most of the night and we saw some nice plays run to get guys open looks.  Why Notre Dame zoned UK I’ll never know, but it led to wide open threes, which the Cats knocked down 9 of them.  It could have been more, as we saw something very uncommon, Doron Lamb missing three or four WIDE OPEN looks. Another uncommon scene was the Cats hitting 17-22 free throws!!! They’ve actually gotten better each of the past three games, so maybe hitting 75-80% of their free throws will become the norm.

Big ups to John Hood and Stacey Poole, and to Coach Cal for getting them a few minutes, which I’ve been begging for. They each came in, looked comfortable and knocked down a three to keep Kentucky afloat midway through the first half. I’m telling you, these 2 guys are a huge key for the Cats, as their thin bench has been exploited in their two losses. Confidence has to be sky high for these two guys now and hopefully they can ride this good performance into Saturday’s game against Indiana and turn their 2-4 minutes into 8-10 solid minutes.

I can’t quite put my finger on how good these Cats can be, are they final four material, elite 8, sweet 16?… Whatever may be the case, I like how they continue to play the next play, meaning, not much bothers these guys, when the chips are down they continue to play hard.  They share the basketball, play team defense and root each other on, all are characteristics of a WINNING BASKETBALL TEAM…

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

Dec 8

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 8:02 pm | Leave a Comment (0)
Category: Basketball

The Cats roll into the new look Freedom Hall tonight, blue floor and all, to take on the #23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame is a high scoring team, averaging 82 points per game and while they don’t have the size that has caused the Cats trouble, they still have some good front court players.  Former UK recruit Tyrone Nash and Tim Abromaitis lead the way as they both average double figure points while adding close to 7 boards each. Kentucky’s focus will have to be on Ben Hansbrough, the Mississippi State transfer and sharp shooter averages 15 points per game, while knocking down 53% of his threes.

Kentucky bounced back nicely from the UCONN loss, but this will be a much tougher test than Boston U.  I’m hoping though that Coach Cal will find some playing time for Stacey Poole Jr. and/or John Hood,  Kentucky REALLY needs to add some depth to their lineup so the guards aren’t gassed toward the end of games. Also factor in foul trouble, and the possibility that these guys MIGHT get into the flow of the game and help out in one way or another.

This game will play out much like the UNC and Washington game, with it being a ping pong match, up and down, run and gun, which plays right into the hands of Kentucky.  Although Notre Dame likes to periodically change their defense from man to man to a zone, Kentucky should be effective both inside and outside.  The key for Kentucky is to STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE! And I’m sure that’s what Notre Dame wants to do. If I’m the Irish coach, I pound the ball down low and try to get Terrence Jones and others in foul trouble and exploit the Cats soft bench.

I look for the Cats to bounce back from the loss with a strong effort, it’s not going to be easy but I’ll give the Kentucky the nod over Notre Dame 82-75.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!

Dec 6

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 10:45 am | Leave a Comment (2)
Category: Basketball

The Cats scrapped and showed to me that they had grown a little as a team since their loss to UCONN, but they still couldn’t overcome UNC and their big man Tyler Zeller as they fell 75-73 in Chapel Hill Saturday.  It looks as if it’s going to be a theme that if UK plays a teams with some size and experience in the post, the Cats are going to struggle stopping opponents.  On the other hand, the Cats hung in and fought and led most of the game only to come up short in the end. Zeller was the focal point of UNC’s offense the last 5 minutes of the game as they continually fed him in the post and he either scored or got fouled and knocked down the free throws. Zeller ended the day with 27 points 11 rebounds and 5 blocks.  His stats along with John Henson’s 13 points 12 rebounds and 3 blocks, continually frustrated the cats, especially Terrence Jones who endured his worse shooting day as a Cat.

Kentucky hung tough by knocking down 9 of 21 threes, Doron Lamb had his best game of the season tallying 24 points and showing some smarts in knowing when to push the ball and when to not force the issue.  I credit Kentucky for going toe to toe with UNC’s big men as Kentucky was only outrebounded by 3. They showed a lot of quickness around the basket and strenght to rip balls away for UNC at times.  It just wasn’t enough as Jones, Harrellson, Vargas, and Knight all fouled out and watched the games final minutes from the bench.  The refs, at times, let the players play but there were some questionable touch fouls on both ends of the floor.  Kentucky’s depth and strenght just weren’t enough on this night, but as I said before, Kentucky grew as a team during this loss, as they didn’t panic when UNC made their runs and hung right in there with them.

Another lesson for these young Cats as the continue on with this  season, they played well in a hostile environment and have NOTHING to hang their heads about.  Looking forward to the match up with Notre Dame on Wednesday night, to see how the Cats bounce back.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

Dec 3

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 10:56 am | Leave a Comment (4)
Category: Basketball

The Kentucky Wildcats travel to Chapel Hill, NC tomorrow to take on the walking wounded North Carolina Tar Heels.  The Heels have struggled as of late losing 3 of the last 5 games, with all 3 of those losses coming against teams from major conferences. The big talk as of late is how there is so much pressure on #1 recruit Harrison Barnes and why he is struggling. Not all Freshmen are going to come in and light it up, there’s going to be some kind of transitional period and some Freshmen will adapt quickly and some will take a little time. For the Cats sake I hope it takes 1 more game for Barnes to find his groove!

Kentucky is young, UNC is young, what’s going to decide this battle is whether or not Kentucky can withstand an early run, if it occurs, and bounce back, as well as if Kentucky can execute their offense and knock perimeter shots down.  It will be a similar game as the UCONN loss, with Carolina having a 6’11 John Henson and 7’0″ Tyler Zeller in the paint waiting on the Cats dribble drive offense. So far this year, Knight, Liggins and others have continuously driven into the lane to get their shots off, this will be EXTREMELY tough to do against the length of UNC.  How Kentucky handles this will be the tell tell sign of the game. We’ll be able to tell how much the Cats have grown or what they need to continue to work on after this battle.

I look for the UNSELFISH Cats to show up, I’m sure they learned what happens when you’re selfish, and run up and down with UNC to the tune of a 77-70 victory.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!

Dec 1

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 2:51 pm | Leave a Comment (4)
Category: Basketball

Everything seems ok in Big Blue Land again, especially after UK’s dominance over Boston U., 91-57.  The UNSELFISH Cats returned to the court by delivering 20 assists last night, led by Brandon Knight’s 6. Early on the Cats struggled a bit trying to find their groove, but found it early in the 2nd half to take control of the game. The scouting report on these Cats is to prevent them from running in transition and make them play half court hoops. Boston U was able to do that in the 1st half but Kentucky turned up the defensive pressure to force missed shots and turnovers which led to Kentucky getting out and running. There was still ALOT of 1 on 1 basketball, which forced Knight, Lamb, Liggins and Jones to force some things on the offensive end, but when those forced shots fall, all is well for that night.

For the second game in a row, Kentucky did an above average job from the foul line by knocking down 17 of 24 for 70%, hey, it’s getting better folks!!  They also torched the nets from behind the arc hitting 10 of 16, if Kentucky can consistently shoot like this, they’re going to be hard to handle.  The problem with depending on jumpers is that you know it’s not going to be like this every night from deep, so where does the offense come from at that point. Josh Harrellson could provide an answer as he scored  12 points while grabbing 11 boards,  but this was against an undersized Boston U team, i would love to see him repeat this performance Saturday at UNC, which would give the Cats a huge boost!

My player of the game goes to Brandon Knight, who bounced back from a sub-par performance vs UCONN to tally 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Knight regained his touch from 3 point land as well by hitting 4 of 6.  He looked very confident and made all the right decisions which is a big key for this young team.

It was good to see the Cats shake off the beat down from UCONN to get right back up, shake off the dust and take down Boston U.  Saturday’s game is going to be a tough one in Chapel Hill, but again will provide a good test to see where these Cats stand as they continue through the non conference portion of their schedule.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!

Nov 30

Henry’s Blue and White Thoughts

Posted by: Henry Thomas at 10:59 am | Leave a Comment (4)
Category: Basketball

First off, I’d like to send my condolensces to the Calapari family for the loss of his mother and her battle with cancer. It has to be tough for Coach Cal to go through this while trying to prepare for this game, so my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones.

The last time we chatted, we all were on a high after the Cats took down Washington in an impressive perfomance.  One day later, after UCONN destroyed Kentucky, and now  there are all of a sudden, a lot of  kinks in the armor.

We found out, that if Brandon Knight goes to the bench with foul trouble, there is not a particulary good backup.  Doron Lamb struggled mightily getting the ball up the court, and Deandre Liggins was not impressive either. The flow of the offense came to a halt and without a big guy to dump the ball into to try to get an easy basket, things just got out of hand in a hurry.  Kentucky took on a different/selfish persona as each person tried to drive to the hole and ran into 2 or 3 UCONN defenders.  Kentucky has played so unselfishly early on that this caught me by surprise, but that’s what young teams do, they panic.  We also learned that Terrance Jones can’t go to the bench for extended minutes as well. Although he had another monster night with 24 points, a 3 point UCONN lead swelled to 21 in no time once he went out.

On a brighter note, the Cats made 15-20 free throws, and Jones made 8-9, which is very encouraging and will help as we go along in the season because i was fearing that teams would eventually start fouling Jones if he continued at his 50 clip from the line.  Sometimes alot of good things come with losses, it makes you take a step back and realize that you are NOT unbeatable and that you need to bring your “A” game every night to win.  We’ll see what kind of changes have occured in the Kentucky camp tonight when they face a 4-3 Boston U team.  I really don’t expect much of a challenge, as in Boston U surprising UK and making them gut out a win, but it will be nice to see UK run some offense, not panic and get back to playing unselfishly.  Defensively they’ll need to shut down John Holland who averages 17 per game and can knock down the 3.  Up until the UCONN game, UK had done a nice job of shutting down the opponents number 1 option, but Kemba Walker will not be on the court tonight, thank gosh… UK’s defensive pressure should force bad shots which will lead to some transition buckets which Kentucky excells in.

I say Cats 88  Boston U 65

GO BIG BLUE!!