As we get ready for the Cats excursion to Canada, the buzz all around the UK world is the marked improvement of one Deandre Liggins. I had heard going into this summer that the coaches expected Liggins to be significantly improved and that he would “open some eyes” when the new season started. However I admit to having been skeptical. Two years of Liggins looking uncomfortable seemed too much to overcome and I had resigned him to the role of “off the bench contributor” during his next two seasons in Lexington. It was nothing against Deandre, who I always had liked, but it just seemed to me that he wasnt adjusting well to the college game and his tendency to think, rather than react, would be too much to overcome.
Then I went to practice on two different days and I saw a completely different situation. The Deandre Liggins from the last two seasons, somewhat timid, likely to make a mistake and taking a back seat on the court was replaced. In his slot instead was a Liggins that attacked the basket with authority, beat every defender on the court to the rim and played the best defense of anyone wearing Blue and White. On multiple occasions, Deandre would make a move and Calipari would shout words of approval and repeat the mantra, “see guys THAT is what I want to see.” In every drill, he ran hard and on every occasion he could be on the court, he gave total effort. It was a different Deandre Liggins and one that seemed like a grizzled veteran teaching the young guys, rather than a player trying to find his way.
If THAT Deandre Liggins takes the court during the season, then he is very likely to end up a starter. That Liggins provides the team with much-needed defense, length, driving ability and leadership. All of those things were expected from Darius Miller and the thought of Miller and four Freshman starters was assumed by the fan base. But if early practices are any indication, that assumption may have been much too quickly made.