The annual Blue/White game is in the books. No more intersquad scrimmages. Bring on the real opponents. Your 2012-13 University of Kentucky Wildcats scrimmaged each other one last time in front of the fans on Wednesday night, with the Blue team coming out victorious, 89-88. The rosters changed throughout the game, so the final score is meaningless, but the game started off as a contest between the projected starting five (Harrow, Goodwin, Poythress, Wiltjer, and Noel) against their backups (Polson, Mays, Beckham, Hood, and Cauley-Stein.) The reserves (Blue) jumped out early on the starters (White) with a 29-19 lead ten minutes into the game before Cal jumped in and made roster adjustments. It was just a lot of dunking from there.
Let’s talk about it…
Archie Goodwin led all scorers on the night with 32 points, but he wishes he could’ve finished the game with 33. The freshman from Arkansas stood at the line for three foul shots with no time on the clock and a chance to tie the game, but he couldn’t convert all three. The opportunity to tie the game at the stripe came after Tod Lanter (we’ll get to him in a minute) missed a free throw with two seconds left to stretch the Blue team’s lead out to four and seal the victory.
Afterwards, Archie said he really wishes he could’ve capitalized on the free throws after Kyle Wiltjer fouled him on the game’s final field goal attempt. “I wanted those,” he told reporters in the hallway outside the locker room/construction zone. “It felt so good when I let it go but it didn’t go in.”
Had all three free throws gone down, the game would’ve ended in a tie and the Blue team’s 11-game win streak in the Blue/White game would be no more.
I don’t know if the TV cameras caught it but Coach Cal nearly ran out onto the floor while yelling at Archie after he threw down a big dunk in the second half. Archie told us after the game that Calipari was upset because Archie kept it himself on the fast break, rather than advancing the ball to the open man ahead of him. While the play looked great to fans, Cal thought Goodwin was selfish by not giving up the rock.
“We’re just trying to create more of a team atmosphere,” Goodwin said of the play. “You know, pass the ball ahead, because (Cal) would want them to do the same for me.”
Speaking of big dunks, Alex Poythress. Oh my. This team is going to make a lot of posters. Opponents will eventually learn to just get out of the way.
He might’ve been on the receiving end of Poythress’ best slam, but Willie Cauley-Stein was the surprise, and maybe the star of the night. He impressed us all with his versatility on the offensive end by knocking down a baby hook over Nerlens, banking in a 15-footer — Was that Tim Duncan? — and, of course, dunking. Cauley-Stein scored 14 points to go with his 12 rebounds and assured everyone in the stands that the #AutoLob is back for another season.
Willie’s counterpart, Nerlens Noel, had an average outing in the paint for the White team. He fell down a lot, whatever that means, on his way to a nine-point outing with eight rebounds. Nerlens has a LONG way to go offensively, but he showed us why Anthony Davis’ single season block record could already be in jeopardy. Nerlens swatted seven shots and altered no telling how many more. It’s a nasty combination of length, elevation and timing. Don’t break that weak action around him.
If I were naming UK’s starting five based only Wednesday night, Nerlens would be the backup to Willie Cauley-Stein. I can’t believe I just wrote that, either.
Thoughts on Ryan Harrow? Calipari said his point guard played okay. “I think he’s a better player than that,” Cal said of Harrow’s Wednesday night showing. “He needs to be.”
Harrow scored 20 points, most of them layups, to go along with a game-high six assists.
I’m afraid it’s going to be another love-hate* relationship with Kyle Wiltjer this season. We’re going to love him on offense and we’re going to groan when he’s in on defense. Wiltjer had a hell of night with the ball in his hands as he showed off a new catalog of moves and acrobatic buckets down low on his way to 28 points. His defense, however, wasn’t all there. Calipari said, “Jon Hood had his way with him. Kyle is going to have to defend better.”
Cal then added, “I told Kyle, you’ve got to do other things other than rely on jump shots. If you’re not making that, I have to sit you down. It’s hard to make shots when you have to make shots, if that’s the thing that keeps you in the game.”
*We would never ‘hate’ Kyle Wiltjer. It’s just that his defense can be frustrating at times.
Cal likes his team, by the way. I don’t know if he’s mentioned that publicly yet.
Did you see Tod Lanter out there? The new kid was running up and down the floor for everyone who has ever dreamed of wearing Kentucky blue. The practice walk-on from Dunbar knocked down a three-pointer on his first career field goal attempt and struggled to fight back the smile as he ran back on defense. I’ve never been so jealous and happy for a guy at the same time. But on a serious note, Lanter has size, something the team needed for practice while Beckham was out, and he played pretty well considering his role and very short time with the team. Both sides were playfully giving him a hard time as he got ready to shoot the two free throws at the end of the game, which tells me he’s already fitting right in with his new friends. He’ll be a big help behind the scenes and could very well end up with his own jersey if he continues to work hard.
I wonder how Brian Long and Sam Malone feel about Lanter coming in and taking all of their minutes? Neither one of them saw action during the scrimmage, while Lanter played quite a bit. And does Lanter appreciate it?
Gotta give an online fist bump to Jon Hood for playing a great game. He said his knee is back to 100% and it felt good to finally get out there and play. The city of Madisonville is very proud of those 17 points. Keep it up.
And finally, here are the two couples from the first ever KSR Dating Game. I hope they enjoyed themselves and, who knows, maybe they found love.
Jordan and Corey
Jessica and Adam
That’ll do it for now. I need to watch the new All-Access Kentucky before I fall asleep. We’ll have even more from the game and Coach Cal in the morning.