It was a great night in Windsor, Canada, as approximately 3,000 UK fans stormed Essex County to see their Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Windsor Lancers 95-62. The Cats came out a bit slow, and the game remained close throughout most of the First Half. But in the second half, the UK offense started rolling, the Windsor Lancers became a bit worn down and UK put on a Dribble-Drive clinic in getting the easy victory. There are lot of notes to get to, so lets look at the action:
— The story of the night was the tremendous performance by Freshman point guard Brandon Knight. For those who wondered if he would be able to step in and live up to his star reputation, he had this stat line to show for it: 31 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers. Not too shabby. Knight controlled the game from the opening tip, getting to the basket at will and showcasing speed that may have even been a bit better than advertised. After the game, the Windsor coach was asked about his thoughts on Knight and he said “he is fast, super-fast” and that may even be a bit of an understatement. I had never seen a college point guard quicker with the ball than John Wall and I am not ready to say Knight is that quick yet…but man he is fast.
— Speaking of Knight, Calipari had high praise for the Point Guard after the game. He said that Knight “was nervous before the game…he wanted to throw up.” But when the lights were on, those nerves did not show. Calipari suggested that some players on the team might have thought Knight was a bit overrated when he came in and that some may have wondered about his ability during the opening practices. But Calipari said he knew when the games started and the lights were on, Brandon Knight would shine….and that he did.
— Darius Miller also showcased a leadership role and played well. He played nearly every position on the floor and at times was technically the center. He looks to be much stronger and his new-found aggression was showcased on a monster dunk early in the first half. He finished with 18 points and Calipari said afterwards that he was very happy Miller didnt defer as often in this game as last season.
— Calipari said that they basically played the Dribble-Drive offense the entire game and that is his plan for the rest of the trip. He said that in games last year, the team only played it about 30% of the time and it was clear tonight that they were living or dying by the offense. Watch over the next two games if you want to understand its driving, dishing and spacing principles.
— Another good performance by Deandre Liggins, who got the basket with authority throughout the game on Sunday. Liggins finished with ten and afterwards Calipari said he wanted to see even more aggression from the Junior. He is so quick on his first step and seems to have gotten down the “Extra step” that players get when driving to the basket. He looked great from my end.
— Some of the younger guys struggled a bit in their debuts. Terrence Jones got injured in the first half and only played nine minutes. In those nine minutes however, he had one of the best moves of the game, a little fake pass-leading to a layup that may have been the prettiest play of the game. His shoulder injury means he may or may not play the rest of the trip.
— It was a tough day for Doron Lamb who didnt look like the player we saw in practice last week. HE missed most of his shots (including three of his “cant miss” teardrops) and was a bit off throughout the night. Calipari said after the game that “Doron, who had played great in all the practices, was a step behind all game.” He did however say that he thought that was good and would teach Lamb what he needed to work on throughout the year.
— Jon Hood had three dunks in the game, which had to break Vegas if they had a feature bet at some point on the board. All were breakaways and Hood threw each of them down hard (causing a Canadian highlight show to proclaim “Hood is SO GOOD!”….creativity is not the best export in Canada). I thought Jon showed a lot of aggressiveness and his defense was a bit better than usual. He said afterwards that “I have been watiing for this day” and it was clear that he was very happy to see the court and be a real contributor. I thought it was a very solid debut.
— Speaking of solid debuts, no one got greater cheers than Jarrod “Backstreets Back Alright!” Polson. He came in and played seven minutes, keeping the crowd energized. Polson had a great play where he went coast to coast for a layup that was quite impressive. HE may have been happy with the news from earlier in the night that Polson has been awarded a scholarship for this season….good news for the man from Jessamine County.
— Overall, Calipari was pleased with the performance, noting that without some of their interior players and with the short amount of practice, he could see a lot of improvement. They go at it again tomorrow and hopefully the roster they have (which if Jones isnt healthy is only 8 people), will be able to handle the many minutes.
— The entire theme of the game was funny, as things were a bit different in Canada. The announcer would scream about Time OOOOTS on the floor, and I laughed each time the accent was accenuated. The “no time out and no foul out” rules made the game interminably long, but it was (as Calipari said) for teaching purposes. Calipari showed that himself as he came on the court a couple of times to demonstrate to his players what he wanted…causing one Windsor player to just laugh as he looked at Calipari sliding his feet.
— The two most bizarre things about the game to me….1. the Windsor player named Monty Hardware…if ever there was a late night Cinemax name, that is it….2. Calipari’s absurd outfit. On Twitter, talk of what Calipari wore seemed to dominate the conversation. For me, he looked like a dentist. And let it be known, it was the first time in the history of UK basketball that press row was dressed up more than the coaching bench. Not tomorrow…shorts and Adidas sandals from this guy.
A great night in Windsor and a lot of fun. UK fans are everywhere and seem to be having a great time. The KSR crew is doing well and had another good night (although 3 am posting can be a bit hard) and I hope that if you havent heard the KSR SEASON 2 OPENING PODCAST, you will check it out below. We think it is a good recap of the summer. More tomorrow from Canada, where the basketball is good and the text messages are expensive.