As we continue through the year, Ravi Moss will keep giving his thoughts on the development of the team. This is his writeup on the Maui Invitational:
The team is back now from Maui and my reaction to the tournament is kind of mixed. I certainly saw some good things. I really liked what I saw from the freshmen especially in the early games. I saw some good things from Ramel, especially in the early games. I thought he struggled a bit as he went on, but I thought he played well early. I really liked what I saw from Randolph. He started to emerge as a leader and show a lot of toughness, which is good to see. But there were a lot of mistakes, especially as the tournament went along that the guys just cant make.
Ultimately I really wish we had pulled off the UCLA game. I thought we were going to pull through and I think we should have won that game. Down the stretch we made some turnovers and the freshmen lost their poise a little bit. Ramel made some mistakes that game and I think that is ultimately why we lost. Its been tough early with Ramel. When he is playing good and making good decisions, we are a good team. When he struggles like he did with UCLA, this is still a good team but not nearly as good as it could be. Ramel is in many ways the key to this team. Ultimately for this team to be real good, Ramel needs to run the show, but he needs to do it a little bit better than he has been doing, but I know he is capable of it and I am optimistic that he will be doing it at the end of the year.
The good things though is the way this team came back. When you get down big, you keep playing and hope it works itself out. Basketball is a game of runs and the team did exactly what they were supposed to do and came back…they made some free throws and were able to stay in the game and come back. I really liked how the freshmen handled being down early. Jasper came in and played great. Michael Porter came in and surprised a lot of people. I have been telling people he is solid and he is going to be a good player at UK.
I was a little surprised at the end of the games in Maui that Tubby went with Jasper at the end of some of those games instead of PErry. But Coach goes with whoever is playing the best at the time and matchups dictated that Jasper should be playing. Bobby has been struggling a bit and Coach will go with the guy who gives them the best chance to win.
I agreed with a lot of what Jay Bilas was saying about how the guys were trying to do too much in the UCLA and Memphis games. When a play breaks down, these guys, especially Ramel and Joe, try to take things one on one. They try to do it a little too much but you have to remember that these guys are one on one players. That is what they have been doing their whole lives and it is hard for them to change that now. But Coach understands this and he lets them play early, but now he will insist that they play a little bit more structured I believe.
I dont know what happened against Memphis. A lot of people say that we were tired, but tired is overrated. Everybody on that team is in shape and as players, you dont really get tired in those situations. Some teams just dont matchup well and Memphis is one of those teams with us. They pressure the ball a lot and are really athletic. I dont want to have to play Memphis in the postseason. Memphis is one of those teams that we just arent going to match up well with at all. But still I was really disappointed with how we played in the second half of that game and it certainly made things end on a bad note.
Overall however, I think it was a good experience. They have to learn how to be mentally tough and close out games at the end. That was something that Chuck, Keith, Gerald and those guys were great at. That is what these guys need to do too, and hopefully it will happen in the next few weeks. Thanks for all the great support from the fans on these writeups and I look forward to doing them during the year.