T.J.’s Takes feature the five key thoughts from Basketball Recruiting Analyst T.J. Walker. The first thought will always be instant analysis on the win or loss and the last will be looking ahead to the next game.
1. The Win: Wow. Another dominant performance from Kentucky and that was far from the Cats’ A game. UK looked a little lethargic at times but the Cats were at their best the few times Toronto made runs. I love that out of a team. Anytime the opponent had momentum this week UK answered in a major way. That’s a trait of a quality team. Toronto played a more “college style” of basketball so it was fun to see UK cruise against a more muddied up game and a team parking it inside. Another great win for the Cats closing out a phenomenal week.
2. Herro: I wasn’t able to watch much (any?) of Herro live in high school/AAU but I did watch tapes and all the same highlights you watched. I’ve never seen him more confident and he’s as confident as any other John Calipari freshmen. He doesn’t overthink things and I’m impressed with IQ offensively. Those pump-fakes have been severely polished and it’s fun thinking where he could be in three months but more importantly come March. He will get better defensively, I don’t think he’s a liability but he has room to improve. Despite his shortcomings defensively it seems like he will need to be on the court for UK when push comes to shove. I can’t wait to watch his development.
3. Travis: Offensively he’s going to be frustrated with his week but I really liked what I saw from him. He’ll be a bit more polished when the Duke game rolls around but I absolutely loved seeing him not get down on a few missed layups. Today he took advantage of Toronto packing things inside and hit a few outside shots, finished with a team-high 19 points. He can do that and in games where teams don’t strictly play man-to-man, that’s going to be available. This guy is going to be so important from a leadership and consistency standpoint that he will have to be on the court late in games for the Cats.
4. Johnson/PJ: Folks, these two players not only look similar, but they play similar. Both play with so much heart and emotion, but are bulldogs when attacking. Washington has already improved so much in three months, and even missed a few weeks because of his finger. He will only get better. I loved his outside game today. Johnson has only been on a college campus for a couple months and he’s already looking confident and trying to attack on every possession. I love Johnson in transition. He’s a different type of player than MKG, but they impact the game in a similar way. Both are everywhere on the floor, both talk and both never take a play off.
5. Moving Forward: Bring. On. Duke. I was confident of UK’s chances in the season opener but now I know the Cats will be a handful for the Blue Devils. Kentucky showcased everything we needed to see this week. They will be good defensively. They can score outside, attack the rim and feed the bigs. They answer runs. They are a nightmare in transition and seem to all play well together. Remember, despite the success this week Calipari has hardly coached defense. That will be a point of emphasis when they start practice and that’s why these trips are so beneficial- UK will be a month or two ahead when the season starts.
I wish the Cats were in Indy tomorrow taking on Duke. It’s going to be a long three months. Folks, follow this team this season. It’s going to be one to remember.