Thats the type of debut that is known as “kicking off a new era in style”. On a night where the entire Bluegrass state wanted to see what a new coach and a new Freshman from Huntington would bring to the table, both shone bright in a rout over our good friends from the Eastern part of the state. Billy Clyde immediately showcased the fact that it will be a new era in Lexington….one that will cause the folks working at the scorer’s table to work overtime. He played a number of players and introduced a passing, cutting, reverse the ball offense that produced a greater flow on that end of the floor than has been seen in the last 2-3 years. Players husted, dove on the floor and gave 100% energy throughout. Mistakes were aplenty, but as Billy Clyde said after the game, they were mistakes of “commission and not omission”, and thus much preferable to a coach seeking to build a championship team.
We also got to see the debut of Patrick Patterson who thrilled Cats fans everywhere with 21 points and a dominating, physical presence down low that Kentucky fans have been hoping for since his Junior season of high school. Patrick showcased a number of moves inside and helped control the glass during his time in the post. In addition, he out-physicaled the Pikeville defenders, getting in position for a number of easy baskets. And maybe most importantly, he showcased what has always been his greatest asset, his tremendous basketball IQ. With the possible exception of Ramel Bradley, no player was in the right position more often than P-Pat, as he showcased just what all the hype was about before he arrived in Rupp Arena.
However even with these debuts, the star of the show tonight was Sophomore Jodie Meeks. Jodie finished with 34 points, 27 of which came in a first half that had Cats fans drooling about the next potential great star in the Big Blue. Jodie hit 7 of 9 three pointers from all over the court, essentially ended Pikeville’s experiment of playing zone throughout the game and took a close affair in the early minutes and turned in into the route it became in the end. In addition, we saw great improvement from Meeks on the defensive end, a trait that he admits has been the weakest part of his game previously, as he showcased that along with Ramel Bradley, he will be the rock and foundation of this team. Jodie Meeks is a star folks….get on board.
Overall, it was a stellar debut to the Billy Clyde era in a somewhat reserved Rupp Arena (thanks to Halloween.) Billy Clyde showcased what he has been preaching all summer about this team. You can score a lot of points without “playing fast.” There was very little full court pressure and not a ton of fast breaking….but there was a lot of scoring because the possessions on offense were crisp and the passing was ubiquitous. Coach Jeremy Cox told us this summer that he never wants to see three guys outside the three point line just standing…..movement is key. And we saw movement throughout the game. Guys like Patterson, Coury and Stevenson showcased this team’s desire to develop interior passing and their contributions were huge for creating the open shots. All in all it was a very good debut for the Blue and White. Sure there were areas of concern (the interior is quite thin), but there was also a sense of hope and opportunity….and what a great feeling that is.
A few more randoms:
(1)Joe Crawford took the decision by Billy Clyde to bring him off the bench well. He played smart, in control and within the team concept and had a great game. He wont be on the bench long, but Joe C showcased a huge step in his attitude development. I was VERY glad to see it.
(2)We knew Ramon Harris and Mark Coury would start, but this game showed us that they will also play a lot as well. Coury showed his intelligence down low and his physical limitations as well. He finds himself in the right position most of the time and is able to make the correct pass…he will be hurt by more athletic players but he will play….and likely a lot. Harris had an up and down game, but showcased the fact that he may be the best on the ball defender out there not named Ramel Bradley. Long arms, quick feet and constant hustle and you see why the Alaskan will get his PT.
(3) I dont like the new PA announcer. Sorry, not a fan. But I do like the new intro music…..been clamoring for it for two years and they started it tonight….for big games the “oh oh oh oh” chant will be haunting….
(4) Perry Stevenson will be a guy who frustrates, but improves all year. He is so athletic and a good shot blocker. However his inability to finish on offense and his lack of defensive positioning is tough to watch…..he has to play and get better for this team…..but watching him will be a definite work in progress. I pull for him though and think in two years, he will be a real talent.
(5) Kyle Macy needs to get some emotion in his voice…..hopefully that will come, but in the second half, I listened to Leach and Pratt and the difference was night and day. Step it up tv folks…..
More on the game tomorrow, including the sights and sounds that were a little odd and quirky….great debut….and isnt it good to have basketball back!