I have been dragging around all day knocking out my to do list with this same mean mug on my face for these reasons. One, lack of sleep for a 9:00 PM start. Also because I, like every year, got my hopes up for a great season. Well I think they broke my hopes in record time this season. That was some of the most uninspired game play on offense I have seen from the blue and white. Yes I know its the first game of the season with a bunch of brand new starters on offense and brand new defensive scheme, but if I’m not mistaken most of the defense returned and played well anyway. On offense we have a QB that has game experience and won some big games and also an experienced offensive line, yet they couldn’t score more than twice on the Hilltoppers. Out of this game I have developed three questions/worries for this team.
Remember reading all the articles this pre season that talked about our experienced offensive line? What happened to the line last night? I know they had some injuries but goodness even with two tight end sets and both of them blocking WKU was getting through and stopping the run. I blame the line for the lack of success of the run. Kentucky only had 93 rushing yards on 33 attempts for a 2.8 average. But the evidence that shows the line was not up to par is that Kentucky actually gained 140 yards rushing, but they lost 47 yards on rushing attempts. Let’s not forget that 58 of those yards were on one play. With the passing game not clicking WKU focused on the run, and was successful. Which leads to my next point….
What happened to the supposed leader Morgan Newton? He started games as a freshman and won in place of injured Mike Hartline. The reports coming out of practice were positive. All I saw was a scared, jittery man in the pocket. He had three picks, two that were because he couldn’t handle the pressure. Now part of that is the line’s fault, but pass protection was somewhat solid and he couldn’t make any worse choices. He did show that he has a strong arm making great throws but to my next point…
Why don’t we have any wide receivers that stepped up to be the man, or at least make catches? Newton probably wouldn’t of had such a bad game if the receivers would of not dropped so many passes. King and Roark were not thrilling to watch and must step up if the team is going to produce points.
I am pretty young, but I can’t remember when UK’s defense was so much more prepared than the offense. There were some good signs like freshman Josh Clemons at running back and Minter’s new defense was solid. Winston Guy was all over the place in his hybrid defensive back position as well. But if you don’t score points, you can’t win. I know its early and I’m not down yet, but I hope I’m not in the same mood next sunday morning. If your reading this on Saturday morning, see the sun did rise again, hopefully so will the Cats.
I don’t know about you, but when I think America I think of a couple things, beer, apple pie, baseball, grilling out, and fireworks. Well now we can also add basketball. I was not even in school yet when the dream team was dominating, and well ever since then international basketball hasn’t really seemed like a big deal. But now us Kentucky fans will hopefully be rooting For Darius Miller as he has been invited to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games training camp. 22 players have been invited to camp, with five including Darius already having past experience playing for USA in world competitions. Miller actually was a part of a 9-0 19 and under team at the 2009 FIBA U19 world championship. There is only room for twelve players so ten will be sent home. This could be a huge thing for Darius to get extra work and game experience against some of the world’s best. It can only make him better. So I say we all start getting extra patriotic by July 29th when the tryout begins.
Nine different conferences are going to be represented, with six schools from the Big East, four schools from the Big Ten, three from the SEC, two from the Big 12, and the rest a bunch of mid majors. Running the show will be Purdue University’s Matt Painter, with Butler Univeristy’s Brad Stevens and University of Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as Assistant Coaches.
As one of the craziest names i have seen, this 6-10 205 pound center is a five star prospect out of Everett, Massachusetts. He seems to be a defensive force with his length making him an incredible shot blocker. He already holds offers from UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Kentucky. Most likely he will pick up many more in the next year from Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, and Providence as all these schools are on his list as well. Take a look at some of his game footage below:
According to a video on Coast to Coast Recruiting, the 2012 combo guard said the Cats are still in the running even with Harrow’s commitment. Rodney was at one point committed to the Dirty Birds, but backed off when Tim Fuller left for Missouri. Also in the video he lists his favorite schools as Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, NC State, and Memphis. There is also some footage of him talking about what his strengths and weakness are, and some other small talk. Check it out below.
Do you remember a time when someone just completely outdid you? They just show you up to the point you are embarrassed, then came that chance you were waiting for when you knew you could get you revenge. All you want is to take their face and rub it in the ground. You get the revenge, but it is still just a bit of a letdown because you didn’t really destroy them. Thats how this game felt to me. It was awesome to win, but the second half was so awful it still turned out to be a bummer.
One thing you always want to see is a team that wants a win, or better yet in conference they want revenge. This picture below made me excited for this game. Terrence Jones wanted a reminder of what Trey Thompkins did to them last game:
Why couldn’t there be more of that killer instinct? Kentucky had Georgia down 15 at half and easily had shown that this was no competition, yet they managed to give us all a scare and let the Bulldogs come back. Terrence Jones did not even seem as motivated as I’d thought he would be with only 7 points, however did play pretty good defense on Thompkins with the help of Harrellson. Kentucky was shooting out of this world in the first half with 51% from the field and 50% from three.
Halftime seemed to ice the Cats as in the second half they shot 31% and a whopping 0% from 3-point line. Kentucky was just happy to be up 15 instead of showing the world that the first game was a fluke and that the talent level is far different. Now people are still just thinking that Florida is still the team to beat in the SEC, when we know the talent is in Lexington.
The free throw line continues to hurt the Cats. For the game Kentucky shot 64%. Had Georgia got the game closer earlier in the second half, this could have been the dropping point for the Cats. Luckily, the defense did not all go in the the second half as Georgia had issues hitting their own shots. The difference between the two is Kentucky missed a ton of open jumpers.
I personally wanted Kentucky to win by about twenty, and if the kept the same pace as in the first half that could of easily been done. Nobody could get to the rim for the easy basket, and the shots wouldn’t fall. If Georgia would have shot better than 37% in the second half, Kentucky would of lost this game. Okay, I’m done venting. It is a Saturday night and I’m sick so I’m watching Comedy Central all night, so lets see some comments on what you would of like to have seen happen in this game. Leggoo
I wrote an article yesterday saying the issue with Kentucky’s losses was shooting. When I look at the stats from the four losses the shooting difference from the season averages stood out to me. I now realize that I am partially wrong.
Watching the South Carolina game I noticed something I had not seen in a while. The help D was back and everyone seemed to be smothering their man. It was good enough to hold the Gamecocks to 33% from the field and 16% from behind the arc. South Carolina’s top two scorers, Bruce Ellington and Ramon Galloway, only combined for 14 points from 5-20 shooting. Also Kentucky caused 11 turnovers behind 5 steals and six blocks. Overall, statistically the cats played a solid game defensively.
DeAndre Liggins is not in any way an offensive guy, but he averages the second most minutes a game at 32.7. Wonder how he does it? He is the best defender on the floor. Liggins is Calipari’s go to guy to take on any team’s leading scorer. He doesn’t ever lose his man much less ever leaves his side. But there is a bit of a downside with that. DeAndre is the player in the six man rotation that has a shooting percentage under 40%. So with Liggins you have to take the good with the bad, like in the South Carolina game he shot 0-7 from the field. But still he is a role player and one of the best defenders in the country.
So back to the article about the losses. I just did not think about the fact that maybe Kentucky just played awful defense in those four games, and for the most part thats right. So the key to winning conference games on the road for this Kentucky team is to apply defensive pressure, and that will control the crowd if you can keep the other team from big time plays. The defensive stops also let you run the fast paced offense that these Cats excel at.
Also I mentioned they need to find another consistent way to score when the shots aren’t falling. But when you keep the other team from shooting well by playing great defense, you get the opportunity to get your shots to fall and if I was a betting man, I would take this team to outshoot about anyone. As long as they play this kind of defense.
Kentucky’s four losses are more than what I would of predicted by this time in the season. The two losses out of conference to UConn and North Carolina I can understand and actually I am fine with. With conference play though, Kentucky already has two losses and has yet to play Vanderbilt, Florida, or Tennessee. The issue at hand seems to be shooting on the road.The Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama games were at their house and UConn was in Maui.
This young Kentucky team is a fast paced shooting team, and slow starts in the losses seemed to take the them out of their flow, with players forcing up shots and trying to make plays. The issue is besides open jumpers, there is no consistent way to score points. With no offensive presence inside, when the shots aren’t falling, the scorers force shots instead of swinging the ball around to find the open man. Below is a chart that shows the yearly averages and the averages from the four losses.
Totals (4 losses)
The stats don’t lie. Kentucky in these four games shot about 10% lower from the field, got 6 less rebounds, and 3 less assists. If it’s the environment that is causing the losses on the road, the cats better figure out who the leader is to take over a game.
If it is just poor shooting, then this will happen again because sometimes the shots are just not going to fall. If your just a shooting team you are going to lose games because you might be cold and the opposing team might be hot (Example: Alabama).
Last years team could not shoot very well and yet the managed to only lose 3 games all season. But this team does not have the same role players. Let us just hope that this team will get hot at the right times, like tournament time.
According to BigBlue247, Alvin “Bud” Dupree gave his commitment to Joker Phillips to play for the Cats next season. Alvin is a Tight End from Irwinton, Georgia. He also held offers from Georgia Tech and Florida State. Dupree is 6’5, 230 pounds, but with that size also comes good speed at 4.6 forty. Scout.com has him listed as a 3-star and #45 at his position in his class. You can watch some video of him below:
Also in football news, 2-star wide reciever Josh Forrest reconfirmed his commitment to Kentucky according to Jody Demling of the Courier Journal. Forrest had been rumored in taking a visit to Central Florida, but after visiting with Coach Phillips Decided not to take the visit and stay with the Cats
And football lost one recruit today according to Jody Demling. Riyahd Jones(no I didn’t misspell his name) a 3-star CB from Georgia Decided to de commit and open back up his recruiting. Other school interested are Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, and UMass.
Interesting rumors are tarting to float around Kentucky’s best committed recruit. Jon Davis from Eastern High School, who is a 4-star tight end is thinking of wearing red. According to Mike Hughes of insidetheville.com says that Davis will switch to the Cards this weekend. I obviously hope this is not true and it hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if this is then this will be a huge blow for Joker. Jon gave his verbal over a year ago and for him to back out now would drop Kentucky far down the rankings in this recruiting class
One more note in Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith were atDixie Heights High School in Ft. Mitchell to watch Zeke Pike play basketball tonight. Pike is a 4-star quarterback in the class of 2012. He already has a ton of offers including a lot of the SEC schools ad has already been invited for the Army High School All American Game next year.
Waking up yesterday morning I felt drained. You ever have one of those days? I just felt no need to get out of bed, even though I needed to eat, lift, study, and go to my night class. Well, I only made it to my class. My lack of energy made me complacent and lazy, and it will probably show in many ways. Well sometimes you have to make the energy. I could of hopped out of bed and forced myself to shower and prepare for my day by having a big lunch, it just takes a little motivation. When you go throughout your day with no energy things won’t turn out as well.
Kentucky failed to show me any energy coming out of the gate. The lack of the killer instinct when the game started showed in both losses to Georgia and Alabama. They seem so ready to just put the ball up and not take the good shot. Then when the shots were not falling early in the first half, they ditch the game plan and try and drive in and force shots. On the defensive side in the first half Kentucky was not pressuring the ball and seemed lackadaisical. I cannot understand how going on the road and a team ranked in the top #25 is not excited to play. Everyone knows playing away is what really can define a team because when it comes to tournament time you don’t get to play on your home court. Even from watching on TV you can tell that the energy in the gym was electric from the home fans. Being Kentucky is like being the Yankees, every time you are on the road your going to draw the hardcore fans and your going to be the reason they sellout. Getting off to a good start on the road is important because it can take the “sixth man”, or the fans out of the game. Bama fed of their fans and the atmosphere and they played with tons of energy because of it.
That being said I do want to give recognition to the one player on Kentucky’s roster who has played every minute at full force. DeAndre Liggins is our top defender and what looks like to me to be the team leader. He is not really an offensive threat and he can be a wild dribbler, but you can never say he didn’t hustle. At least once a game he ends up on the floor after a loose ball. He played smart against Alabama with no turnovers and 4 assists, and a couple of those on big shots late in the second half.
These Cats showed they can play from behind but yet I still think they need to find that clutch player who takes over the game when they need it most. When they are losing sometimes you see the panic in the face of some of the players, but the one who stays calm is Knight. He is able to get to the basket and he can shoot. Brandon has taken games over before and he needs to be the offensive leader of this team. This team needs a energy source, and hopefully they can feed off their point guard.
Well normally I don’t enjoy gossip that comes around sports, but when it comes to good looking women I will check it out. This girl above is a freshman cheerleader at Mississippi State by the name Taylor Corley. However her uh lets say stage name is Taylor Stone in Playboy. Currently, she is still listed as an active cheerleader on Mississippi State’s website and still seen on the sidelines at the basketball games. With this hitting the headlines across the web it will be interesting what the School decides to do. If you remember a Louisville cheerleader Rebbeca Manns was kicked not only off the team for naked pictures getting put on the web, but she was also kicked out of school. I personally did not think that was fair because she did not put it out herself, but with Taylor Corley’s case she went out and got paid for it and I think that gives the right for the University to intervene do whatever they choose. She chose to do this and that gives the school the right to decide if this is how they want to be represented?