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A Look Back At The Misleading Blue-White Games Under John Calipari


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If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Blue-White games over the years, it’s that, though fun to watch, they can be very misleading. Fans should not take tonight’s game as a sign of what’s to come in 2017-18. Too many times we’ve seen guys explode for a ton of points, only to disappear within the offense during the regular season.

That’s just how it works: the Blue-White game is merely a dress rehearsal to showcase what weapons Calipari has at his disposal for the upcoming run.

And, unfortunately, the game has a history of being a very inaccurate indicator of how individual players will perform when the score matters.

Take a look back with me, if you will.


2016


Last year’s game was the appetizer to what was ahead from Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. The two guards combined for 57 points, while Isaiah Briscoe led the way with 39 points on 14-of-30 shooting and a game-high 10 assists.

Mychal Mulder’s night was the most misleading (if there was a misleading performance last year) with 18 points on 4-for-5 shooting from outside.

Watch the highlights:


2015


The 2015 Blue-White game saw the White team snap a 13-year losing streak to the Blue. Starting for that White squad were Tyler Ulis, Mychal Mulder, Charles Matthews, Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere; and for the Blue we saw Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Derek Willis, Alex Poythress and Isaac Humphries.

Labissiere led both sides with a game-high 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. We never in a million years thought his season would go the way it did, with the hype surrounding him after that first scrimmage.

Alex Poythress, Charles Matthews and Jamal Murray weren’t far behind in scoring with 17 points each, then Isaiah Briscoe with 16, Derek Willis with 14 and Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis with 10 apiece. It was the most evenly distributed scoring in a Blue-White scrimmage under Calipari.

Other notables:

— Poythress hit 3-of-4 three-pointers.

— Tyler Ulis’ 15 assists gave us a preview of what was to come.

— Attendance of 15,007 was the second-highest in Blue-White history.

Watch the highlights:


2014


The 2014 Blue-White game was, without question, the most competitive of its kind. That one featured the two “platoons” and came after the Cats had already played games against professional teams in the Bahamas. You could say it was one of the toughest games they played all season, and it was against each other.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds, said afterward, “It’s just scary to think that the other team is actually part of our team.”

Devin Booker was the leading-scorer with 22 on 9-of-11 shooting, with his only two misses coming on his only two three-point attempts.

Other notables:

— The Harrisons combined for 34 points for the Blue team in the win.

— Dakari Johnson showed off a new, leaner physique. He had 13 points and 14 rebounds playing for both sides, but missed eight of his nine free throw attempts.

— Brian Long went 1-for-1 from outside for his three points.

Watch the highlights:


2013


The Cats opened our eyes in the 2013 edition of the Blue-White game and had several fans (me included) thinking absurd thoughts about what that team was capable of doing. Of course, things didn’t pan out the way we had hoped during the regular season, but the end result was a trip to Dallas for the Final Four.

James Young led all scorers in the 2013 intrasquad scrimmage, tallying 25 points for the Blue squad in a dominant offensive performance. Defensively, he gave us all false hope with several hustle plays and a game-high seven steals.

For the White team, Derek Willis took MVP honors with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Kentucky boy was 5-for-6 from downtown, leading everyone to wonder if Kyle Wiltjer would be missed at all. Willis hit one three-pointer in the regular season.

Other notables:

— Julius Randle matched Willis’ 21-point, eight-rebound outing.

— Aaron Harrison added 19, including 3-of-4 from downtown

— Dakari Johnson recorded a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 boards, playing for both the Blue and White teams.

— The Blue team started four freshmen: Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young and Julius Randle, alongside Willie Cauley-Stein.

Watch the highlights:

 And how can we forget E.J. Floreal dunking on Julius Randle? Play of the Game:

 Randle said, “He got me.”


2012


2012 gave us the UK debuts of Willie Cauley-Stein, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays, the only Kentucky team to not reach the NCAA tournament under John Calipari. Goodwin was the game’s leading scorer with 32 points, but he needed 22 shots to do it. That selfishness was a taste of what we’d see from Goodwin that season, although he was the only one trying to make something happen at times, as you remember.

Other notables:

— Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel combined for 12 blocks in the game.

— Jon Hood scored 17, exposing the poor defense of a sophomore Kyle Wiltjer.

— Wiltjer scored 28 points with nine rebounds.

— Alex Poythress scored 25, while Ryan Harrow posted 20 and a game-high six assists.

— Goodwin missed a free-throw to send the game to overtime.

Watch the highlights:


2011


Terrence Jones stole the show in 2011, a game that included six future NBA players, by scoring a record 52 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. After the scrimmage, Calipari told reporters, “Terrence Jones right now, I’ll tell you, if there’s a better player in the country, I’ve got to see him. Maybe that guy’s in our gym. I don’t know. But if there is somebody better than Terrence, I’ve got to see it.”

Little did Cal know — or maybe he did — Anthony Davis would soon become the best player in the country and lead Kentucky to the national championship the following spring. Davis scored a quiet 27 points opposite Jones with 13 rebounds and four blocks for the White team.

Other notables:

— Doron Lamb scored 31 points for Jones’ Blue team, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

— For the White, Kyle Wiltjer chipped in 17 with five three-pointers to go with 24 from Darius Miller and 19 from Marquis Teage.

Watch the highlights Jarrod Polson dunk:


2010


One year before Terrence Jones made history for the most points scored, Brandon Knight set the record with 37 points. Knight out-shined the freshman version of Jones in the 2010 Blue-White box score, but Jones still put up big numbers with 29 in the win for Blue while showing off incredible versatility in his game. It was Knight who was the record-setter, but Jones was the talk of the state after their UK debuts.

Lost in the excitement of the new freshmen: Josh Harrellson hauled in 26 rebounds and earned a Twitter suspension a few days later. Jorts tweeted, “Just amazing to me I can’t get a good job or way to go.”

You may remember, the tweet almost sent him home from the Lodge. Cal was very close to kicking him off the team and the 2011 Final Four run never would’ve happened.

Other notables:

— Apparently no one had a YouTube account in 2010.

— Enes Kanter was not free; he sat courtside in an Undertaker t-shirt:


2009


The first Blue-White scrimmage under John Calipari gave us the most shocking individual Blue-White performance of Cal’s era, and maybe ever.

In a game that showcased three current NBA max deal players and five other future leaguers, the leading scorer was none other than one Darnell Dodson. Dodson scored a game-high 26 points, one better than John Wall’s 25 and two better than Patrick Patterson’s 24. He went on to average just under six points per game before transferring to Southern Miss after the season.

Other notables:

— Wall added 11 assists to his 25 points.

— DeMarcus Cousins fell just shy of a double-double with 16 and 9.

— Eric Bledsoe scored 14 with nine assists, splitting time between the two teams.

— A record 14,060 fans showed up for a first glimpse at the new Cats and Cal’s Dribble-Drive offense.

Darnell Dodson, ladies and gentlemen.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

4 responses to “A Look Back At The Misleading Blue-White Games Under John Calipari”

  1. luke_emberton

    I think Briscoe doing anything positive is very misleading

  2. catdaddyd

    I’ve got one extra ticket, lower level, for free. If anyone wants.

  3. notFromhere

    Still salty about Cal dropping the platoon system in the tourney. Cats would’ve smoked everybody

  4. dan213

    Hey notfromhere….still salty huh? I’m still pissed Pitino threw the championship in ‘97 when he refused to play Derek Anderson! Then claimed some bs moral high ground…like I said then and I think most would agree now even UL fans that man has no morals little lone high ground to stand on and that includes everything. Matter of fact I’m still mad we got rid of Eddie! Man had more class in his little finger than Rick ever had and I said that in ‘89