**Before he took the solemn vows of initation at 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.
Our beloved Kentucky Wildcats finish off their pre-season slate tonight at home against the Clarion Runnin’ Golden Eagles at Rupp Arena in what could be the final exhibition game for quite a while.. For UK’s head coach, John Calipari, who will face off against the team he used to play the point for, the game will be a lot like a high school reunion – except it’s a college and there won’t be a bunch of goofy pictures. Or maybe there will be. Nonetheless, the diminuitive player who didn’t start until his senior year will spend every second of this reunion establishing himself as the BMOC. Coach has said some players might not see time but, outside of Eric Bledsoe and his bum ankle, has not said who. No matter, who is on the floor, though, Coach hopes to find a little more offensive continuity from his troops after looking a little sloppy in a 74-38 win over Campbellsville. And then, of course, there is the whole John Wall thing. The NBA player who was nice enough to put in a year at UK will make his game debut tonight. For UK fans, who have seen their team treat these games with the passion of Rick Pitino’s marriage the last few years, it’s a pleasant return to excitement in this pre-season blowout-in-the-making.
For the Golden Eagles and veteran head coach Ron Righter – a former Duke player who served as an assistant under Dr. Tom Davis and George Raveling – tonight will serve as an opportunity to fine-tune their helter-skelter tempo against a team of similar talent. In Righter’s 22 season stearing the Clarion ship, the Golden Eagles have won 60% of their games and won the PSAC-West (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) three times (1997, 2000, 2005) and won the overall conference title once, in 2001, still the only year they’ve made the D-II Tourney under him. This season, despite losing the greatest base-stealer in history and coming off an 11-16 record, the Golden Eagles look to improve on pre-season predictions that have them ranked 7th out ot 8 teams in their conference. They’ll try to do so by going 11-deep (that’s what she said) and playing at a frenetic pace. By taking shots 3 seconds into the shot clock and pressuring a team that can either decide to dribble around them or throw over the top, this strategy should work quite well tonight. If it’s not a 30-point margin at halftime, someone look to see if Gillispie staggered in with a clipboard and is sitting behind the bench in a brown jacket.
Now, without further ado, let’s meet the starters!
#1 Lloyd Harrison, 6-1, G, Junior
*2008-09 stats: 26.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 7 apg
If Lloyd Harrison looks familiar to you, it’s because he played at Colorado Northwest Community College last season, where he averaged LeBron-like stats of 26 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds per game. This season, he’ll look to fill in the large shoes (likely LeBron brand too) left behind by a hard-nosed point guard from the 1981-82 season. Harrison happens to be the cousin of San Diego Charger and former UK basketball opponent Antonio Gates (22 and 7 in 2001), which means he’s already genetically prepared for all the ESPN face time he’ll get as the guy getting burned on John Wall’s file footage.
#22 Jamar Harrison, 6-3, G, Junior
*2008-09 stats: 17 ppg, 6 rpg
Showing that they are not ashamed about mining the JuCo pipeline of guys with the last name of Harrison, Righter’s squad will also welcome Jamar Harrison from Bakersfield Community College. They refer to him simply as “Impact Player” on their media notes and Harrison could certainly be that as he put up 17 and 6 as a sophomore last season. The Golden Eagles will count on him to play both guard positions, as well as small forward, and his athleticism makes him their best defender. He is not related to Antonio Gates or Lloyd Harrison but he looks like a guy I work with. So he might be related to someone in accounting.
2008-09 stats: 12.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 43% on threes
Mike Sherry is the Patrick Patterson of Clarion if that tells you anything about the difference in these two programs. Sherry has started 52 of his team’s 54 games since arriving on campus and has no doubt won the hearts of those fine beauties above, which explains that Twinkie-eating grin. Last season, Sherry averaged 10 points as the team’s second-leading scorer and shot 40% from downtown. More impressively, Sherry remains one of two people on this planet who list both Young Jeezy as their favorite music artist and Kirk Hinrich as their favorite player (Rob Bromely being the other). Perhaps the best part of his bio, though, is the part under “Coach Says” where it reads “well coached”. The junior from Pittsburgh is listed in the media notes as 5’1″. which would make his matchup with Darius Miller quite interesting, although I believe it’s a typo. I’m hoping it’s not though.
2008-09 stats: 9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 35% on threes
Shameel Carter is a versatile piece of the Clarion puzzle as the New York native will contribute both inside and outside by playing both forward spots. And, since the Muslim meaning of his name is “Complete Carter”, I guess his mom is twice the prophet of Mama Legion. There is nothing really too remarkable about Carter besides the fact that he went to high school with a guy who looks more like Tim Tebow than Tebow does. Seeing as how he’s going to be using his versatility to be abused by Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller, I hope he put in his prayer requests with that guy already.
#32 Paul McQueen, 6-5, F, Sophomore
2008-09 stats: 4.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Paul McQueen is not good. And I’m fairly certain he’s not related to Steve McQueen, but I can’t confirm that. There is nothing online denying it.
Notes: Clarion coach Ron Righter also served as an assistant on the bronze medal-winning 1988 US Olympic team….The Golden Eagles are 2-3 against D-1 opponents under Righter….Clarion was outscored by opponents last year by an average of 74-72….UK is now 42-4 all-time in exhibition games….Coach Cal has never coached against his alma mater….there are only two players on Clarion’s roster taller than 6’5″…..we could field a team of KSR bloggers bigger than Clarion’s entire starting lineup….the game will air on Fox Sports South at 7 and then replay later 11 in Louisville and 11:35 in Lexington….this game has the potential to reach “I feel bad for these guys” stages….like Campbellsville, these guys are just happy to be here. Good for them.