Remember that team that looked sluggish the other night against Campbellsville? Yeah me either. Tonight, Kentucky put on a completely different offensive performance, beating a Clarion squad by 65 that Calipari said is better than the team played on Monday. The Cats looked good on all facets, and showcased that as good as Eric Bledsoe is (and he is good), John Wall is special. With Wall at the helm, the offense ran efficiently, the defense was swarming and Kentucky pulled off a victory that generally left its coach happy. Some numbers from the game:
John Wall 27 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists (triple-double is coming)
Demarcus Cousins 20 points, 6 rebounds
Patrick Patterson 14 points, 6 rebounds
Darius Miller 11 points, 7 assists
Darnell Dodson 11 points, 9 rebounds
Jon Hood 7 points, 4 rebounds
Ramon Harris 11 points, 7 rebounds
Mark Krebs 5 points in 7 minutes
Perry STevenson 8 points (2-2 from floor, 4-4 from line)
Josh Harrellson 2 points, 3 rebounds
Some quick notes instead of player evaluations (they all played well):
— Daniel Orton went out early with some chest pains. He was taken to the locker room and then returned after. He sat out the rest of the game and afterwards Calipari and the players all said he seemed fine.
— John Wall is unbelievably special. Calipari said after the game that the performance was “very good,” saying he is a great leader. “He is saying to me, we gotta get Pat some shots. That is a leader folks.”
— Speaking of Patrick Patterson, Calipari said he thought he looked more aggressive and noted that he was urging Patrick to shoot more. He then said, “I gotta figure out how we are gonna play him.” He said he thought Patrick looked “a little uncomfortable” but said he had no concerns about Patterson in the season.
— Calipari called Demarcus Cousins the great term “a beast”, transferring it forever from Matt Pilgrim. Cousins had a great game and when he gets the ball in the low post, you can forget about it.
— Calipari specifically praised Mark Krebs, noting that when he is in the game, there is a “Krebs Effect”, meaning that the team executes the offense more efficiently and everyone passes better during those times. John Wall noted the same thing saying, “everything is just smoother when he is in. We have to all get like that.”
— Calipari also signaled out praise for Perry Stevenson who he said was now specifically in the rotation. Good to see for Perry and no one’s stock has raised more in a week.
— Speaking of stock, it is clear that there is some issue with DeAndre Liggins. Calipari said afterwards that he preferred to not talk about Liggins and talk about the players who played adding that he “would not throw any player under the bus” on an issue. I assume we will find out more soon.
— Calipari also noted for the first time that this “may end up being a post-up team.” While he looked a bit sad about it, he noted that Patterson, Cousins and Orton are all inside studs and Stevenson has stepped up as well. He said that the team might go to the post 50 times in a game, something he hasnt done, but may be required to use the skills this team has.
— Calipari also noted how important the aggression we saw tonight is to the success of the offense. He said that when people arent trying to score, the offense can look like a “Washington Generals weave”, which was a comment made by a couple of commenters on this site. He said aggression like tonight is what makes the offense work as it should.
— Finally, the most praise of the Cats came from the Clarion coach who said that in his 35 years of coaching, “this team is as skilled a team as I have seen.” He noted that the combination of young talent and quality veterans makes the team able to give a complete performance. He said that Wall was “the real deal” and that Patterson was a player he loved. “I told him afterwards that you are going to be the foundation. You are the key to how far they go.” He noted that the DDO is all about angles and with Wall, they do angles well. Ultimately he conceded they were outmatched and said that “our guys may end up on Wall Street. They may represent these guys when eight of them are in the NBA.”
It was a great night for the Cats in Lexington. The real games start next week. For now, the excitement of Rupp is back and there will be much more to come. As the Clarion coach said afterwards, “you guys are going to have a lot of fun in this building this year.” He is correct.