Not much you can say about today’s game. In one of the worst home defeats in Rupp Arena history (have we heard that phrase before?), the Cats lost to 7-8 San Diego, 81-72. Rupp Arena sat in stunned disbelief for the majority of the afternoon as the Cats watched a San Diego team that comes from the West Coast Conference with a losing record, control the glass, get every loose ball and hit wide open threes in order to pull off a stunner in Lexington. In actuality however, we need to stop referring to these games as stunners. This Kentucky team is not good…..whether it is epically bad is still up in the air, but a team that loses at home to Gardner-Webb and San Diego must be rationalized as being fairly awful. Rather than recapping a game that most of you saw and that none of you want to revisit, here are some tidbits from the postgame press conference that were VERY interesting.
(1) The game may be best remembered as the return of Derrick Jasper. Watching DJ warm up was an odd moment, as it was clear that he was favoring his off leg and each jump seemed very tender. While he looked a step slow on the court, he played rather effectively and didnt seem to be too rusty from the time off. However he grimaced often while running down the court and was limping in the post-game interview. I am not part of the medical staff for the team, so I cant question the decision to play him. DJ says he feels good and was ready. I certainly hope for his sake that is the case.
(2) The talk of the post-game media room was the odd playing decision on Jodie Meeks. During his postgame comments, Billy Clyde was asked by me about why Jodie Meeks didnt play in the first half but did in the second and his initial answer was “I thought that was when we needed him.” However the question was followed up and Billy Clyde was asked whether it was simply a coach’s decision and he said, “he played when he was available.” Alan Cutler followed that up by asking what “available” means and Coach said, “it means available. He played when he was available.” Cutler then asked if it was a doctor’s call and Gillispie said “yes”, which led to a follow-up question as to what changed at halftime. Gillispie simply said, “he was available” and then moved on. An odd exchange and one that left the media in the room baffled.
(3) Billy Clyde was asked what he would say to the fans who said this was a bad team and he said, “I dont have anything to say to them.” He then added that might agree with the sentiment based on the performance today.
(4) Ramel Bradley said that the team’s morale was still strong. “I am shocked with how we played. I thought we would take care of business, but we know we are so much better than we have played. Hopefully we will get it going before conference play.”
(5) Patrick Patterson said that he and the team are still upbeat, but that he doesnt like the losing. “I feel like we should win every game. I am furious to be honest. This has been an awful feeling.”
(6) Gillispie was not upset with the offense, but focused on the poor defense. “71 points should be enough to win. They ran the game exactly like they wanted to.”
(7) San Diego’s coach said this was the biggest win in school history. It was absolutely unbelieveable that a walk-on Freshman, Devin Ginty, who had only scored 5 points all season went for 18 points in this game.
(8) An odd substitution pattern for sure today. AJ Stewart started for the first time anthen took the role of Mark Coury, playing for five minutes and then not returning. Gillispie said that he “thought some other guys should be playing.” Michael Porter also only played six minutes today, showing that Jasper and Meeks will take his playing time going forward. Ramon Harris still played 26 minutes, so he looks to be the one role player from last year who will still see time this year.
I am really at a loss for words on what we saw. For the first time this season, the mood at Rupp was negative. A lot of people were questioning the effort on the floor and the coaching decisions, especially concerning the decision to play Meeks and Jasper in the way they did. It is hard to know exactly what to say about this team right now and it is hard to get a grasp on what exactly is going wrong. Unfortunately the answer may be “everything except Patterson.” I am not sure where this season is headed, but at this point avoiding a a complete train wreck may be the best that all can hope for.