**Before he disappeared into the black abyss (aka The Brown Tweed Society), Evan Hilbert and I enjoyed some good times at WildcatBlitz.com and here at Kentucky Sports Radio. I liked the way he laughed, his firm embrace and, mostly, his preview of the starting lineups of opposing basketball teams. So, just like the bat signal, I’ll be posting these each game, hoping that it brings Evan home.
The Kentucky Wildcats kick off their 107th basketball season this evening with an exhibition game against one of “America’s Best Christian Colleges” (2007-08) at Rupp Arena. The Campbellsville Tigers, most famous for a pair of Travises (former coach Ford and South Oldham basketball legend/my online dynasty buddy Foley), head to Rupp Arena with all the pre-season optimism of the UK football team after being picked to finish 5th in their conference and landing one vote in the NAIA pre-season poll. With all of this optimism, however, comes great distraction and the Baptists ballers are also trying to keep their focus for this “trap” game with UK, as a game on Friday with Michigan-Dearborn looms. With a game like that on the horizon, you have to wonder how much they can concentrate on lowly Kentucky and if 1988 Kentucky Male Athlete of the Year Keith Adkins can expect his team’s full attention and effort this game.
Adkins is in his ninth season as the Campbellsville head man and enters into Rupp Arena with an undefeated record of 2-0 against UK from his playing days, winning matchups in Indianapolis and South Bend as a player at Notre Dame. In his nine seasons at the helm, John Pelphrey’s high school teammate holds a career record of 160-105, highlighted by a a record of 80-23 run from 2005-08, ending with The Tigers advancing to something called the Fab Four of the NAIA Tournament for the first time in school history. The run even included an appearance by Brother of Beast. But, as as Ray Nagin always says, rebuilding is a B and the Tigers limped to a 10-19 record during last year’s campaign. Despite the poor record, Campbellsville got 20 and 10 from the now departed Zach Allender, who leaves a gaping hole in the middle. To make up for his departure, Adkins hopes to recapture the magic by adding a mannequin to the coaching staff.
For the Tigers, the road to being Fabulous again begins in Lexington and, since Woo told us that they’re holding tryouts before the game, I have placed minimal effort in this scouting report. I cannot even confirm if these guys will start.
#3 Shawn Savage, 5-10, G, Junior
2008-09 stats: 8.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, 34% on threes
Savage is the biggest returning player from last year…..figuratively speaking, of course. The junior from Bowling Green was last year’s third-leading scorer and isn’t shy about firing from downtown (66% of his shots were threes), regardless of his successes. He can get hot (11-14 in a two game stretch last year) and then get just as cold (13 of his next 50). This could be a good litmus test to see if Cal carries the same “some random guy will shoot like Pete Maravich every game” factor that became fixtures of the Tubby era and The Billy Gillispie Experiment. Regardless, the biggest losers of the night will be Savage’s unborn grandkids who will now grow up in a world with out Grandpa’s John Wall story.
#1 T.J. Bishop, 5-10, G, Senior
2008-09 stats: transfer, man of mystery
It’s a big world out there and T.J. Bishop will be damned if he doesn’t see it all before his eligibility expires. The 26-year old Florida native went JuCo for two years before hitting Missouri Southern and then stopping at Florida Atlantic just long enough to sit out a year. This season, he’s starting his senior year at a new school and, despite lacking the raw sex appeal of Mitchell Goosen in Airborne, he does have a tattoo, which has to count for something. Also, he won the coed 2-on-2 tournament at the Meet the Tigers Fan Night……drumroll please…..emceed by Christi Thomas of the BBN!!!!!!!
2008-09 stats: 5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 31% on threes
Clinton County native Josh Vitatoe is the youngster in the starting lineup, serving as a bit of a do-everything type of player as a freshman last year, which means there’s nothing really exceptional on the stat sheet…and that’s about as far as I’m going to jump in to this research. He does seem to have a terribly low shooting percentage for a forward (38%), but doesn’t take a lot of shots. I’m sure he’s just happy to be in Rupp tonight. And happy to have his picture on Kentucky Sports Radio.
2008-09 stats: 5.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 35% from the field, 32% on threes
In the pride of Battlestown, Ky., Jordan Benock, you find the underlying tale of this Campbellsville basketball team. The 6’2″ forward was the team’s second-leading rebounder last year and, according to the good doctor, he’s just excited about playing at Rupp. Yes. 6’2″. Forward. Second leading rebounder. I won’t even mention that Whitney Ballinger scored higher in the dunk contest than Benock. Good luck against UK tonight, kid. Have fun and try not to catch too many testicles on the forehead. You’re living a dream and we’re all envious. But, seriously, duck or move if you don’t want to get hurt.
*2007-08 stats: 16.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 69% on field goals
Colmenares, whose name translates to “apiaries”, is a Sporting News Pre-Season 1st Team All-American despite sitting out last year with a blown ACL. Two years ago, the Venezualan Sensation went for 16 points and just under 10 rebounds per game, earning a 2nd Team All-American nod. He also averaged just under 3 fouls per game, a figure he’s sure to exceed tonight. As the only proven post player and possible the only proven player on the team, he is also the odds-on favorite for the “Player who will start screaming at his teammates after they’re down 20-0 to start the game”. C’mon guys! We – I mean I – am better than this!
Notes: John Calipari has never faced Campbellsville….UK is 41-4 all-time in exhibition games….Patrick Patterson is only three double-doubles away from cracking the top 10 on UK’s all-time list….Campbellsville has no Americans taller than 6’5″…..they will dress only two players taller than 6’5″….combined, UK is 60 inches taller than the Tigers….UK will start three newcomers…..Dave Baker, Kyle Macy and Rob Bromley will do the TV telecast….Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will handle the radio broadcast….this game is going to get ugly….seriously, they’re going to get crapped on worse than Usi Umenyiora’s girlfriend.