Well we head into Election Day 2006 with the country on the edge of its seat (not really) to find out who will end up winning the Montana Senate race and whether Oh Napier can pull off the Breathitt County Judge Executive Race in a stunning upset fashion. I for one will be looking for all the big returns while desperately hoping that someone can find a way to keep Tim Russert from making a joke about how much he likes the Buffalo Bills. Well we all can dream cant we.
In other news, there was a big game tonight as Kentucky beat South Carolina Upstate in a contest that featured great stories, drama and play…..well at least there was a good story. One of the players for South Carolina Upstate had never, EVER played an organized basketball game before tonight. Read that sentence again. One of the players had never stepped on the floor for an organized game of basketball and he did so tonight at RUPP ARENA! Now if that isnt a Disney movie, I dont know what is. My thoughts on the game are below along with recruiting notes. We begin our exclusive audio of the postgame festivities at UK home games next Wednesday against Miami OH, so look for that. Until then, the news and views….
(1) Not quite the overwhelmingly positive performance that we saw last week against Lindsey Wilson, but the Cats did look good in tonight’s win. The big story of course was the great play of Perry Stevenson, who had 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks in what was an amazing second performance for the young kid. My worry going into the season with Stevenson was that he would have a tough time offensively, but tonight he showed the ability to score, garnering double figures and showcasing some nifty moves. His defensive abilities have never been in question, and the five blocks (and there easily could have been more without UK fouls) showed that the Cats may finally have a great off the ball defender to harass those coming in the paint. Joining Perry with solid performances were the freshmen once again, led by Jodie Meeks who had 13 points, once again proving that he will be a consistent point producer for this year’s team. Michael Porter also showed promise, less because of any noticeable statistical presence, but by looking comfortable while running the offense and locking down on defense. All of these guys were quite impressive.
And for those who question what Kentucky did last year in recruiting, tonight should showcase just how much positive came from last year’s class. Porter, Jasper, Meeks and Stevenson are the consumate Tubby Smith players, guys who buy into the team system, have talent, but are willing to sacrifice for the greater good. All have potential to be good to great defenders and all check their attitudes at the door. If you asked Tubby if he could have this class on repeat every year, I am 100 percent confident he would take it. I still think when these guys graduate, folks will look at it as one of the more successful groups at UK in quite some time.
(2) Now onto the wonderful world of recruiting. Tubby Smith said in his pre-game show that Kentucky had two recruits on campus last weekend to take in the Georgia game. Who were these masked men? Well that is a good question. Guesses have ranged from the Morris twins, to Marshall Moses, to Nasir Robinson to Darius Miller. I think there are a few possibilities. First (and maybe most UN-likely) is that it was Eshaunte Jones from Indiana. Who is Jones you ask? Well he is a 2008 recruit who is one of the more deadly outside shooters you will find and who announced today that he was choosing between UK and Indiana on Thursday. My guess is Indiana (the one time I spoke with him the Hoosiers were the leader), but it very well could be that he took a UK visit under the radar this weekend.
In addition it could also be Tracy Smith, the power forward from North Carolina who has been rumored to be on UK’s map. Smith is a talent who may or may not be an academic talent, but is a friend of Jai Lucas. There is a possibility that he, who has spoken of UK a number of times, could have been in for a visit before signing period.
Regardless of who it was that was here, Tubby has opened a can of worms with that statement. We are digging to find out who was on campus and we hope to have some news by tomorrow.
(3) Speaking of news, rumors are floating that Patrick Patterson now may wait until Spring to make his decision. I have no idea if this is actually true, but the talk is heating up and may now have some backing. This is not fun news for those of us here. While I think what this news means is debateable, this saga dragging out is not something I think will be fun for me as a recruiting follower. It is likely to me that Patterson wants to wait and see a couple of things. First, who will be coming back for the various schools, specifically McRoberts for Duke and Noah and Horford for Florida. Second, who will be coming back in terms of coaches….specifically will Tubby leave at the end of the season and is the Billy Donovan non-renewal of his contract meaningful. And third, what the state of the various programs will be at the end of the year. Will Florida show signs of life and contributions by guys who wont be leaving? Is Kentucky going to be much improved from last year? All of these questions matter….and who knows, Wake may figure in too. Either way, Patrick Patterson’s recruitment has become a mystery to me and I officially have no idea what he is doing…..and let me tell you that other people who say they do are completely full of it.
(4) What about our man Marshall Moses? Well Moses is still intently waiting on his score and literally on the edge of his seat to get to Lexington. He hopes to make a visit this weekend still, but at this point he simply wants to get on campus. He told me, “I have been waiting for this time for so long, I just want it to get here.” Moses is a stud folks…..plain and simple. Him coming to UK will be a huge deal for the Cats if it happens. While he is not the polished talent that Patrick Patterson is now, he may have upside that goes to the ceiling. A Moses commitment would be cause for immense celebration.
(5) And what about our friend Jai Lucas? A decision is expected in a couple of days and I have now heard SOMEONE guarantee Lucas to OSU, Kentucky, Maryland and (today) Oklahoma. Three of those four are wrong. I think we will find out very soon where it will be and I think it is still very likely it is UK. I have no reason to believe (yet) that Kentucky is not still the leader. IF that changes, I hope to find out and give everyone the ability to soften the blow. As of now however, I still think UK is in charge, although I do think the final decision will be made tomorrow night.
Finally the Cats are ranked 22 in the AP poll that was released today. Folks that is way too low. This team is a lot better than people think and those who dont know better realize soon…..
And oh yeah, if you didnt hear this RAP SONG found by our man Tomlin about the South Carolina Upstate Basketball Team, well you need to listen NOW….