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Kentucky easily rolls to a 93-61 win over Northwood

“We’re still not what we need to be, but we’re better than I thought we’d be.” – Calipari

John Calipari is no stranger to playing with young players. Even for Calipari though, this is a bit of a new situation. Calipari is used to plugging in a number of new players into the equation year after year, but he emphasized just how much this team is truly starting from scratch. “This is really scratch.” Calipari said. “This is scratch, scratch.” Kentucky took a while to settle in offensively, but by the end of the game, Calipari felt that his team was a little better than he expected. With a tune-up exhibition game against Transy the only thing between Kentucky and their opening game against Maryland, some strides must be taken for this team to compete close to the level at which Calipari expects.

– The night started with a very classy moment when Kentucky honored Northwood’s coach Rollie Massimino, the former Villanova coach who won his national championship in Rupp Arena in 1985. A video tribute played in Rupp and the fans gave Rollie a thunderous round of applause. “I want to thank John, his staff and the University of Kentucky. It was a wonderful experience.” Massimino gave Kentucky a great compliment in his post-game comments, saying “This is where it’s at (Lexington). Don’t let anyone tell you different.”

– One of the standout statistics from the game has to be the fact that all five of the starters reached double figures in scoring tonight. This team appears to be more productive on the offensive end than expected this early on. Archie Goodwin has separated himself early on as the key ingredient for this team, finding ways to get to the basket at will and finish in a number of ways. Goodwin finished the game with a game-high 22 points on a fairly efficient 7-12 shooting clip. Another encouraging sign from Goodwin was his ability to hit nearly all of his free throws (7-8). At this point, it seems clear that Goodwin is the go-to player on the offensive end and seems confident in that role.

“Willie was good. Nerlens was really good,” Calipari noted following the game. Nerlens Noel kicked off his collegiate career with a double-double, showing why he has been touted as one of the best defensive players in college basketball even before playing a single game. Noel finished the night with 4 blocks, but altered a number of other shots. Noel had a couple of “wow” plays on both ends of the court that gave a glimpse into how high of a ceiling the young man has. Calipari was impressed with his performance as well, giving him a number of accolades in the post-game press conference.

Calipari did not seem quite as impressed with the motor of Alex Poythress. Although Poythress once again showed spurts of incredible strength and athleticism, Calipari pointed out that Poythress took some plays off. Calipari admitted that Poythress probably played too many minutes, especially late in the game when his energy wasn’t where it needed to be. Calipari stated that Jon Hood will likely receive those 3-4 minutes a half to give Poythress a break, starting with the exhibition game on Monday against Transy.

– As many have speculated before, this team’s upside might correlate directly with Alex Poythress’ growth and maturation as a player. Poythress has yet to really assert himself offensively on a consistent basis. When he defines his role in the offense (he reminds me a bit of Darius Miller before he began to come into his own his senior year), this team could be scary. Poythress finished the night with 11 points and 7 rebounds.

We finally got to see Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein on the court together. The high-low game between the two certainly left much to be desired. Defensively though, it will be very hard for teams to get to the rim with that combination of players. Calipari mentioned the fact that Northwood relied upon 3-point shooting to avoid the bigger bodies around the basket for Kentucky. Northwood was able to drain eight 3-pointers on the Wildcats tonight, and Calipari said a lot of his focus when watching game film will be what led to those 3-pointers going in. If teams are going to be forced to rely on outside shooting, Calipari wants Kentucky to be the best at defending that option.

– Calipari said all week that his team was perhaps the worst defensive team had had coached. He was clearly not happy with where they were heading into the scrimmage, and much of that was on display tonight. This team will be able to block shots. And it’s not just Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress. Archie Goodwin showed his hops, recording 3 blocks– a few of which brought down the house in Rupp Arena– igniting some of the loudest cheers of the night. But this team gets beat on the dribble. A lot. Northwood had players who will be much smaller than many of the opponents Kentucky plays this year, but as a team– they were beat on the dribble often all night long. One of Calipari’s biggest challenges this season might be getting this team to buy into becoming the best defensive unit they can, like almost every team he has coached at Kentucky. As I said above, the offense is probably further along than expected. The defense is probably a little behind.

– One of the most interesting things to watch unfold during this game was the number of different combinations (11 total combinations) Calipari put on the floor tonight. “I’ve never been on a team as diverse as this,” admitted Nerlens Noel in his post-game comments. Calipari had the chance to try out a number of options, going big in some instances with either Noel, Cauley-Stein and Poythress, or even Noel, Cauley-Stein and Wiltjer. The latter of the combinations was on display for the first time ever tonight. The players admitted that line-up, featuring 3 guys taller than 6’9, was even new for them.

The line-up Calipari might have spoken the highest on in his post-game comments was his smaller line-up, featuring Harrow, Mays, Goodwin, Poythress and Noel. At this point, Calipari is predicting that this might be his “catch-up” group of players. The energy on both ends of the court was very high when this group was in the game.

Ryan Harrow is going to be interesting. Harrow finished with 15 points and at times looked the part of a crafty/play-making point guard. At other times, he appeared a bit out of sync in running the offense. Harrow seems to fit the mold of Calipari’s past 2 point guards (Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague) in that he will both frustrate and show flashes of brilliance early in the season. Calipari spent a lot of time “talking” to Harrow on the court during the game. He seemed pleased in general though during his post-game comments on Harrow. “Ryan in spurts played how he has to play for us.”

– Goodwin gave some good minutes in the point guard position when Harrow was out of the game. As mentioned above, he led the team in scoring but Goodwin and Poythress combined for 9 of Kentucky’s 17 turnovers. Calipari was not pleased with that statistic and said that he told both guys that if they want the ball in their hands on this team, they have to do better taking care of the basketball.

– Kyle Wiltjer had somewhat of a quiet night. He hit 2 of his 3 three pointers and displayed why he is one of the best shooters in college basketball. Calipari was most concerned with Wiltjer’s missed rebounds though. Calipari said he believes there were at least 3-4 rebounds left on the table by Wiltjer, and that bothers him more than any missed shots or getting beat defensively. Calipari wants Wiltjer to grab the ones that he can and not create what he calls “negative minutes.”

– In the end, Kentucky came out on top in a game where the result never really seemed in question. This team is very, very young and inexperienced. This team has a long way to go until they reach their potential, but I think some of the positives from tonight show just how high that upside can be. Even in just a few week’s time, many of the young players look more comfortable learning their way in Calipari’s system. This team might take some lumps, especially early as they figure out how to play as hard as Calipari will demand of them, especially defensively on every single play. But the talent is certainly there….And Archie Goodwin is going to be really, really good.



Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

51 Comments for Kentucky easily rolls to a 93-61 win over Northwood

  1. Jim
    11:20 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Kyle has to bend his knees and get lower to slide his feet on defense to be effective.

  2. Linda Taylor
    11:24 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I think the total team blocks record is definitely in danger of being broken. It will be interesting to see how much this team has progressed Mon. night and then again after the MD and Duke games. Nothing beats real competition to help a team progress.

  3. tdogg40330
    11:25 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Will this team be at their best for the Maryland or Duke game?? Nope. Will they
    still win?? Yep.

  4. Han
    11:39 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Fun Facts looking ahead to the Duke game.

    Duke has 4 titles, including 2 of the last 12, all with Coach K. But did you know that Duke, along with Kansas, has lost more title games than any other team (6)? There’s certainly something to be said for getting there, but still.

    Also, Coach K has lost more title games (4) than any other coach.

    Notable active coaches with multiple losses: Boeheim, Fisher*, Stevens, Williams – 2 each. (*NCAA says those seasons don’t exist; Similarly, Cal technically is 100% in title games, according to NCAA record books.)

    In the Champions Classic: Duke has won titles with 1 coach. MSU has won with 2. Kansas has won with 3. UK has won with 4 different coaches.

  5. Mike
    11:57 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #4- UK has won national championships with 5 different coaches- Rupp, Hall, Pitino, Smith, and Cal.

    God love Kyle Wiltjer, but damn that kid is unathletic. Not only is he incredibly slow, but its just painful to watch him move around the court so awkwardly. And his rebounding is even worse than his defense. There may be a few games this season when we really need his offense, and in those games I’m ok with him playing more min, but I’d really prefer he only play 15 to 20 min most games.

  6. UKHoopshysteria
    12:33 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Free throws will haunt us. Remember I said this. Anthony Davis spoiled the BBN with his free throws amongst the other guys last year. Gotta make the freebies!!!

  7. SeaCat
    12:44 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Wiltjer can’t guard Matt Jones or out rebound
    his mother.

    This will be a five man team;
    that is tough.

    i fear Harrow cannot be the six that Darius Miller was.

  8. UKBlue
    12:53 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    We need a whole hell of a lot of work !!

  9. Ok
    1:16 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s just enjoy the ride this year people. We are finally, for the first time in 14 years, coming in as the defending national champions. Let me say that again, defending national champions. We could be like those two junior college teams up north and pray that we don’t extend the drought to 26 and 27 years.

  10. UK
    1:36 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    it’s the frat exhibition for a young team…give them some time people!

  11. UK
    1:49 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    We just need to enjoy the ride. Enjoy what will be (arguably) the best stretch of college basketball ever, or at least in Kentucky history.

  12. Ibleedblu
    2:06 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Poythress has yet to assert himself offensively on a consistent basis? That was there first exhibition game!!

  13. Goodwin MVP
    2:18 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    I hope more for bbn or this website to answer my concern. I’m a big UK fan but due to work I missed the game. I wanted to know if 17 turnovers against a team that was no match for UK seemed to be a lot? Were those turnovers late in the game or did UK play sloppy at times? If UK.plays a better defense will they be hurt by a larger number of turnovers? This is not to be taken in a wrong way, I just wanted to know since I missed the game and the turnovers really stuck out. Thanks!

  14. ThisGuy
    2:23 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    We’ve gotta get wiltjer more shots he’s out there to score if he’s not scoring he’s ineffective. He’s never going to pull down a ton of boards he just needs to make sure he boxes out his man so Noel or Willie can grab the board. We’ll get better poythress will improve and Archie looks great and willies a great surprise. Harrow has to be stronger with the ball good teams are going to be physical with him and he’s going to have to be able to handle the rock if we are going to be successful. Also like how mays plays good sixth man coming off the bench for us. I like our team we may struggle a little at first but I love the potential this team has. Man am I excited, it’s bball season!!!!

  15. Archie
    2:38 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Didn’t get a chance to catch the game….who looked good? How was Nerlens? How was Harrow?

  16. Rae
    2:44 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    13. To be expected with such young guys. It was their first time playing a college game against not each other. The sloppiness was very evident in the beginning really, with much better defense later on. However, ball handling might be an issue until they settle. They play like young untrained thoroughbreds right now.

  17. JBR
    2:53 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    13…we had like 11 turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game. We tightened it up after that, but there was a stretch there in the middle of the first half that everyone not named Goodwin played awful. I think this team will take a bit longer to come around than some of our others…and I still don’t know what Cal has against Hood…the kid can play, and just needs a little confidence. I take him on the floor over Wiltjer any day. I like Wiltjer, but at this point, about all he gives us is a dead-eye shooter…he may be the least athletic guy on the team.

  18. trv
    3:36 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Am i the only one that thinks polson could really play point!? He looks comfortable in the system, plays D and hustles. He wouldnt score much but he could run the offense.

  19. MiKEE MIKE
    4:09 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    #4… That may be the worst observation I have seen. The only coach that can lose a title game is one that is there. Coach K has been there a lot… It stands to reason that he may have lost more than any other coach.
    He’s still won 50% of the title games he’s been in. That is one stat that Alot of coaches will stay ahead of him in(Not losing in a title game)beacause they may never be there.
    P.S. I hate DUKE, but that was still a pretty ignorant post.

  20. MiKEE MIKE
    4:14 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    # 12 I don’t think he was just talking about this game. He’s been saying the same thing ever since Poythress has been there.

  21. Big Whoop
    5:27 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Nice presentation, Ally. I am SO glad basketball season has begun. I got the game on two different channels – Fox Sports South and Fox Sports North – Wisconsin.

    Wiltjer will settle in as the old man on the team next year. He will maybe be a four year player and get drafted (not in the first round) his senior year. He is slow on defense, but he can’t rebound. And, he can’t jump. He IS the weakest link at both ends. However, the kid can shoot the ball.

    The turnovers were mostly due to timing, IMO, as these players still don’t know each other very well. There were also times where things just got sloppy.

    The talent is clearly there for another outstanding season (Final Four). We are, however, going to struggle early on. By the end of December we will be a top 10 team. By the end of January, we will be top 5. By the end of February, we will justify our preseason ranking. It will be fun to watch this team grow and develop.

  22. YouDon'tThinkSo?
    6:24 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    It appears to me that Goodwin is already close to the level of Wall, Knight, and Teague by the end of their freshmen years….at least against this NAIA team.

  23. Big Poppa Pump
    6:27 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    I caught part of the tards game. That Montrezl guy that we looked at is a beast. I know they played a scrub team. But the guy has a very high motor. He had like 19 points, 14 boards and 4 blocks. Plus, they said he is 6 foot 8, weighs 240 and has a 7 foot 3 wingspan. No wonder slick rick suspended Chane Behannon. This kid could be better. Whatever he was ranked in hs was a joke.

  24. Beavis
    6:27 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Final two minutes of a close game,,,,who you going to foul ? Noel and Stein will be standing at the foul line.

  25. Matt
    6:41 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Has Shabazz Muhammad been officially ruled ineligible for the entire year? It is coming…

  26. Dacci
    6:55 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    In alex’s defense, he did get 2 bogus offensive fouls early. That probably shook his confidence a bit, and kept him from getting much rythm.

  27. Raazoul
    8:09 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    This team seems to be kind of a mix of all 3 teams of Calipari so far. Remember the Wall/Cousins team? 17-20 turnovers a game most of the early season. But overcame it with athleticism. The B.Knight team? Good shooting at guard. And last year, great defense. This team will be scary good come March.

  28. Can'tStopLaughing
    8:16 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    #23 And U of Lessington played the NBA NC last nite??????????????

  29. cracka
    8:23 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    im okay with a bunch of little guys being able to beat us off the dribble, we’re a big team … they don’t have any where to go once they get to the paint … this means we need to be closing out hard, though = few open 3s … can’t be giving up open 3s and getting beat, they will learn team d along the season and trust it’s okay to close out and let the team d recover

  30. Raazoul
    8:28 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Like Calipari said after the game, this team only plays at 60%. They take plays off on both ends. They’re kids, they’ll learn. Rock Oliver will do the trick.

  31. reedwizard
    8:38 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Two observations:
    Everyone seems to be bashing Harrow. Do you not remember how frustrated JWall was with Cal through Dec? or how bad Teague was for the first half of the season? Harrow is showing me great quickness and ball handling. He has the floater in the lane to finish and can get there with great hops. With bigs on either side for lobs and shooters on the wings, I think he is going to be much better than Teague. Cal mention his ‘soft’ layup that he missed. If you watch the tape, the defender slaps his hands off the ball, so he does need to get stronger hands but he was obviously fouled (no call).

    As for Wiltjer, he continually received the ball at the top of the key and ‘tried’ to do a small pump fake and drive. He couldn’t beat his man off the dribble against this team. Against good competition, he will get called for walks and the defense will be able to force him into turnovers doing this. He needs to shoot that three (straight away top of the key) the first couple times he has it and make them come out on him so then he can drive or it’ll open up a post feed. I’d like to see him post up on the elbow as well so he can use his post moves.

  32. bluesince66
    8:46 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Goodwin sure does remind me of Doron Lamb.

  33. Badgercat
    8:50 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Great, thorough report for those of us who could not watch the game.
    Thanks Ally

  34. bluefan
    8:57 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Have to agree with #31. Can’t believe some of you are giving up on Harrow already. How quickly we forget. I trust Coach Cal with his point guards.

    Great post, Ally. Love the photo.

  35. Rockfield, KY
    9:05 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    18. I agree with you, but he’d have to be running the point while Archie was playing the 2. If not, we’d never be able to break anyone down and get to the basket if the time came where we needed it. But Polson is solid in his ball handling and passing. No lazy passes and stupid mistakes.

  36. eastcoastcat
    9:05 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Yall are crazy…Wiltjer lights it up like no other…c’mon man.

  37. Rockfield, KY
    9:07 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    31. Wiltjer with the ball in the post and his back to the basket is dangerous too. He has a hook with either hand, a good pump fake, and is probably our best post passer. It’s just not really Cal’s style.

  38. Syrin
    9:23 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t believe I am saying this, but this team is better than last year’s team. The top end talent of last year’s team MIGHT have been better, but that’s debateable, but the talent for players 3-8 is substantially better. We’re quicker across the board, we have scoring at every position. Not just scoring, EFFORTLESS scoring. Goodwin could put up 50 a night if he wanted. Mays is a lot better than anticipated. Nerlens Noel is already a much bigger part of the offense than Anthony Davis was at this point. Once this team works as a cohesive unit of defense, they’re going to be VERY VERY VERY SCARY !!!!!

  39. 3 fan
    9:38 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    First, hopefully this game will hush some of the “Jon Hood will get 20 minutes a game” talk.

    Second, Harrow doesn’t look good at all. But then neither did Teague this time last year, and I sure wish he was back.

  40. bosshog
    9:47 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    I won’t go as far as #38….but I liked what I saw last night, especially in the second half. There were a lot of mistakes and we definitely cannot afford those against stiffer competition….but everything that I saw was fixable, and really just has to do with effort and commitment, and the need for a lot more reps against good competition….but that said, I do think that this team could be very good….and has the potential to be a nightmare defensively, if they make that commitment…..the biggest difference between this and last year’s team is that Archie Goodwin looks like a much better all-around player than Doron Lamb….and I think the combination of Noel and Cauley-Stein has even greater defensive potential than Davis-Jones….that is saying a lot….but both those guys are insanely athletic for their size…I agree with the general consensus that Poythress might be a limiting factor…that guy’s got to realize that no one can stop him at the college level if he asserts himself…he needs to develop an attitude….but honestly, we had similar issues at times last year with Jones….overall, not a bad first effort, a lot of potential….and definitely a deeper overall team….we will have several more losses than last year….But I think the ultimate potential is there.

  41. Head Bussa
    9:50 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    31, 34: I really don’t see anybody giving up on Harrow. I see a few people have concerns but these people are pretty ignorant when it comes to analyzing talent/skills/abilities. Don’t worry about the comments from these people. I did see #7’s comment (SeaCat) where he said he feared Harrow couldn’t be the 6 that Darius was. I do think that is a very stupid comment, considering the fact that Harrow will start nearly every game this season and will play 30 minutes per game. I don’t think that makes him a sixth man. Ryan has the chance to be as good a point guard as there is in the college game. He just has to learn to reign in the fancy dribbling when he’s pressured on-ball and also to play at a faster pace more consistently. His stat line of 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 TO’s is pretty decent for a first game. I think Ryan Harrow is a great kid to have on the team as he seems to have a level head and he seems to be a great kid. In addition, he has skills that are out of this world and his solid play at the point can lead us to where we want to be. Ryan is going to be fine. Just chill out people.

  42. Head Bussa
    9:55 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    39 — How did he not look “good at all”? 15 points on 60 percent shooting, 5 assists, 4 steals, and TWO TURNOVERS.

  43. EyewearMan
    9:59 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Tough Crowd here! Archie Goodwin will be this best player on this team! Alex Poythress is a Man Child, and once he finds his motor, he will be difficult to handle. Mays is a great addition with his leadership, outside shooting, and calming affect. Nerlens & WCS will take care of the Block! Wiltjer is a SHOOTER, much like Derrick Miller of the old Pitino days. He is slow, he can’t defend, but he will help us with his shooting. This team will be Top Ten, not sure they get to the Final Four, but they will challenge and compete! Jon Hood is better than most of you realize! He was a TOP 40 Player in High School. He will end up getting Eloy type minutes, and will not hurt the team.

  44. old school
    10:05 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    No integrity out there on the court. A bunch of kids with no respect for the University. All they did was run around and look pretty. Back in my day these kids would have been seniors, wearing tiny shorts and shooting under hand foul shots. Oh how I wish we could go back in time…spending the weekend restoring my Model T, hoping we don’t get invaded by Russia like in that movie Red Dawn, making out at the drive-in and keeping women at home birthin’ babies and making me a sandwich. Simpler times, yes indeedy.

  45. CarolinaCatFan
    10:06 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Last night was about what I was expecting. They will get better defensively and the point guard play will improve. Harrow doesn’t have to be Wall or Knight, and I think he looked better than Teague did at this point last year. Harrow will be fine by January it might just be a little ugly early on. How far this team will go may very well depend on Poythress. If he will play with a high motor consistently and be aggressive it could be the difference between this being a championship-caliber team and a very good team.

  46. eastcoastcat
    10:47 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    40-very well said. all except the losing part at the end. c’mon man. #TWINTOWERS

  47. putinrichie
    11:09 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    I hate to be that guy, but people are reading way too much into beating an NAIA school. Also, the bloggers on this site will “flip-flop” there stance on this team a lot because this team will be very hard to judge early on.

  48. putinrichie
    11:18 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    40 – 100% Disagree about being deeper overall. Our 8th man is John Hood. When did he become a world beater? Also, last years team 1-7 would beat this teams 1-7 by 50 points.

  49. putinrichie
    11:21 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    The only two people on this years team that would have even got minutes on last years team would be Goodwin as a backup guard and maybe one of Noel/WCS backing up in the frontcourt. The rest of them wouldn’t even sniff the court and that includes Poythress.

  50. mike
    11:37 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    #43- Thanks for letting us all know that Wiltjer is a SHOOTER, I don’t think anyone was aware of that. Lol

  51. Syrin
    11:49 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    putinrichie couldn’t be more wrong if he tried. It’s like he’s trying to show us his ignorance of basketball. Go back to and enjoy your buds there. Meanwhile, NBA scouts and the rest of college basketball know better.