I am about to do something I dont normally do. Normally I come on here after games and attempt to have a reasoned opinion, based on detached analysis and ignoring the often misleading excitement that immediately accompanies a particular game’s performance. But not tonight. No tonight I have to say, DAMN, HOW BOUT THEM CATS! I know it was against Missouri-St. Louis, I know it was only an exhibition game and I know that the team was outmatched on the interior. But I dont really care. What we saw tonight was a performance that HAS to make you excited about this year. The Cats won 111-53 (the type of score we havent seen in a LOOOONG time), but more importantly, they looked like a team with potential and the ability to do some damage this season…..all things that have to make fans excited.
Going into this season, my feelings have been mixed. I know this team has the ability to be great defensively, but I have been worried all off season about where the team’s points would come from in order to beat good times. Those concerns havent been completely alleviated, but for the first time I do believe this team has offensive potential. Watching tonight, you saw a team that has multiple scoring options and the ability to bring a lot of different looks to the table…..all traits that could lead this team to surprise more than a few people this year. Seven things that stood out…..
— If tonight is remembered at all (which may be unlikely), it will be remembered as the coming out party for Josh Harrellson. Our man Jorts has been a favorite on this blog since the first day he came to town rocking the denim. But now we can appreciate him not just for his Woo-esque ability to make us laugh, but also for his talent on the court. We saw a range of skills today, including the ability to knock down outside jumpers, finish strong around the hoop and make good passes on the high-low game. While many compare him to Scott Padgett, I think that is a poor comparison as he is bigger and Padgett is a bit more athletic. Harrellson is more along the lines of the big foreign players we have seen develop in college basketball in recent years, like the guy (whose name I forget) that Billy had at Texas A&M. I dont expect Harrellson to score 21 all that many nights this year…..but he can score, and that is in and of itself a good sign.
— We will probably say this all season, but Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks are stars. 29 for Meeks and 24 for Patterson and both could have had many more. These guys are simply college basketball forces at this point and have the ability to burst onto the national stage in ways that many would not have imagined. When I watch Meeks spot up for three, I just KNOW its going in…..there are no doubts. Similarly, if Patterson has the ball on the block and he isnt double-teamed, I am shocked when he misses. And PAtrick on the defensive end of the court is one of the best we have seen (along with Chuck Hayes) in the last decade. These guys will just get better and I cant wait to watch them.
— Gotta love what you saw from Darius Miller tonight. 14 points coming off the bench is EXACTLY what he needs to give to this team. The second unit must have a scoring presence and Darius has exceeded my early expectations in that regard. His minutes will come and go, but if he can put the ball in the basket as he did tonight, he will see the floor.
— While the focus is on the offense and the ability to score, the defense showed just how good it can be. The Cats only allowed 23 points in the first half….and many of the shots made were contested. For about 30 minutes in the game, the Cats’ defense was exceptional and if that effort is continued, this team can play with all but the very few best teams in America.
— There are a couple of disappointments…..I am sad to see another issue with AJ Stewart….Coach says this one is minor, but there continue to be too many for my liking. And you still have to be concerned about Kevin Galloway. Landon Slone, Mark Krebs and Donald Williams all played before he did. He just doesnt seem to be part of the immediate plan.
— A great quote from Josh Harrellson that you gotta love:
“I just thought I was a big body and just a mediocre player,” Harrellson said. “But they think I can be something special.”
If you cant pull for a kid with that kind of humility (and as we have seen, goofiness), then I dont know who you can root for.
— And yes, there was a Jared Carter sighting tonight.. While he still was not good on defense, he scored a bucket and didnt look awful on the glass. He will get a chance at PT this year and I hope for his sake that he takes advantage of it. Tonight was a very good start.
Definitely a feel-good win and one to be excited about going into the week. It is now midnight and I am officially signing off from all communication with the world for 24 hours. I am more than a bit nervous about the election today and I am spending my afternoon volunteering and staying away from all communication. The internet will be ignored, my phone turned off and television silent, until around 9 pm, when I may check in. Beisner, Evan, Mosley and others are manning the blog today and I will see everyone at this time tomorrow. If you need me, send a telegraph!