Two years ago, the world said hello to John Wall. Sure, many had heard about the hyped recruit from Raleigh, North Carolina, but after his 25-point performance in Madison Square Garden, everyone found out just how good he is. Wall’s performance was so electric that Dick Vitale nearly wet his diaper dandies.
Two years later, the Cats return to Madison Square Garden to take on Kansas in one of the night’s elite matchups. With that in mind, let’s analyze the question: which Cat will step up on basketball’s biggest stage? Here are my frontrunners:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 4-1
Is MKG destined to have a big night in MSG? Kidd-Gilchrist has shined in his first games as a Cat, scoring 30 points in the preseason exhibitions and 15 against Marist. He had an immediate impact in his first start against Morehouse exhibition, and while his offense is certainly impressive (he’s averaging a silky smooth 77.8% from the field), but his defense is downright vicious. K-G is, dare I say it, a warrior (Did you know that Heshimu means “warrior” in Swahili?), and is nicely filling the defensive void left by DeAndre Liggins. Add in the fact that 30-40 members of Kidd-Gilchrist’s family are expected to attend the game (he’s from nearby Somersdale, NJ), and I think you’ve got a recipe for a red-letter night for the freshman.
Anthony Davis: 5-1
Anthony “Dunk” Davis is another candidate for the highlight reels. Fresh off winning SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance against Marist, Davis’ confidence is growing, and he will need it on Tuesday night against Jeff Withey. Withey is just as tall as Davis, but not nearly as talented, although he does have the experience that Davis lacks. But, you can’t teach talent, and Davis has loads of it. I expect several highlight dunks from The Brow, but I don’t see him dominating a game like Wall did in 2009. Regardless, going against someone his own size will only help Davis as the season goes on, and the media will absolutely slobber over him.
Terrence Jones: 8-1
I know, I know: Terrence is primed for a breakout game on the national stage. But, he’s also going against Kansas’ most talented player, fellow preseason All-American Thomas Robinson. Robinson is a beast on the boards, and TJ will have to be on his A-game to remain on top of this matchup. If Jones were matched against a more inferior opponent, I would expect his improvement over last season to be the story of the game, but he will have his hands full with Robinson.
Now, let’s take care of some notes.
– The biggest news of the day was Cal’s announcement that Stacey Poole will indeed transfer. The news is hardly surprising after last week’s events, but nevertheless, we wish Stacey well in his future endeavors. The walk-ons will really have to work on their sideline cheerleading to fill the void.
– In a move that KSR reported back in July, it will be announced on Wednesday that UK will play Maryland in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn’s new basketball arena, next season. The Barclays Center is the future home of the New Jersey Nets, of which Jay-Z is a part shareholder. Hopefully this will encourage further appearances by Jay-Z at Kentucky events (Beyonce and Babyonce are totally welcome as well).
– It’s no surprise that the Barclays Center is booking as many college games as possible, since it seems more likely than ever that the NBA season will be canceled after the players rejected the owners’ latest offer today and filed an anti-trust lawsuit. If this means more Nazr Mohammad-Rajon Rondo paintball wars in Lexington, then I’m all for it.
– Let’s touch briefly on football, because I can’t handle any more than that. It’s hard to think of a more depressing loss than Vandy’s 38-8 shellacking of the Cats in Nashville on Saturday. The loss was jarring to many fans, including this one that was willing to give Joker another chance before now. I can handle losing to an opponent that is more talented, but Vandy is, for the moment, one of the few teams in the league that we have that advantage over. Not for long. Something has to change, fast, or this program will risk losing its fanbase, which is something considering the hardiness of UK football fans.
– Congrats to Randall Cobb, who made the most of being named a game captain with a huge night in Green Bay. Cobb got the party started early, with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown, and finished the game with 156 return yards and 3 catches for 36 yards. He also fumbled, but because it’s Golden Eyes, I’m willing to overlook it. Cobb showed blazing speed in his performance, which was easily his best since the season opener against the Saints. Mike McCarthy, I think you’re looking at your new permanent game captain.
– Well, if there’s any year we’re going to beat Tennessee, it’s this year, right??? The Cats will play the Vols at 12:21 p.m. on November 26th, which prevents a conflict with the basketball game against Portland that night at 7. The game will be on the SEC Network. Somewhere, Andre Ware is crying.
– Enough of that. Today is a huge day for the Cats, as they get their first test of the season and we finally get to see the Cats play in HD. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready. There’s no radio show, since the women’s team will be playing at the same time and are obviously more important, but have no fear. We’ll be here all day, getting you ready for one of the most exciting games of the season.
Until then, relive the magic…