It was a late night for me last night, so the notes had to wait until today. Here they are…..
— Most of the backstage chatter was once again about the play of Landon Slone. He again got 24 minutes and played well on both ends of the court, finally knocking down a few jumpers. Afterwards he talked about how meaningful the last two games have been, specifically to the people of Eastern Kentucky. “It makes them proud, and nothing feels better than that,” he said. Not sure what Landon’s role will be when conference play starts, but you gotta love these last two performances.
— Patrick Patterson had a relatively quiet game, mostly because of his lack of touches. I asked Gillispie about it afterwards and he said that he thought Patrick “didnt demand the ball enough” during today’s game. Normally Billy is critical of the guards for not getting Patterson the ball down low, but tonight he singled out Patrick for not demanding it as much as he should. I expect you will see that change Sunday.
— Jodie Meeks had a quiet 23 points, if there is such a thing. Afterwards, he talked a lot about the Louisville game and what to look for going into Sunday. “This game is as big as it gets for Kentucky fans and I know that. I am ready to play.”
— For the first time, DeAndre Liggins was made available to the media. He gave a good showing, much less nervous than at Media Day. He took full responsibility for what happened in Vegas and said that he regrets it a great deal. During the game, he had 6 points, 8 assists and 5 turnovers, meaning if he got the ball, something was going to happen. When asked about his relationship with Gillispie he said, “Coach has been a good deal for me. I love him as a coach. We’ve got to continue to build a relationship and things will work out well for us. (When he takes me out) I put that on me. He takes us out for a reason and I know it’s not his fault what I did it’s my fault. This is a whole new level and I know where coach is coming from.”
— A good game by the man with the Jorts as he scored from the inside consistently for the first game. I spoke with him afterwards and told him about the live blog comment from a reader that he was going to write a song (to the tune of the old commercial), “who wears Jorts Jorts”, he laughed and said, “you guys are crazy.” His girlfriend then demanded that someone do it, so get to work people.
— Coach was complimentary towards Kevin Galloway, but gave no real explanation for his lack of playing time. He said that he wasnt pleased with Kevin on Sunday, but he only played 3 minutes. Tonight he played a bit more and Coach said he liked what he saw. Beginning on Sunday, I think Galloway HAS to play more to counter teams’ athleticism…..especially considering what great starts UK has gotten off to when he has been in the game.
— Darius Miller continues to struggle. Gillispie said afterwards that Miller is one of the crucial parts to this team succeeding later in the year and he hopes he will become more aggressive offensively. I feel bad for Darius as he hasnt looked like the same player that he did early…..hopefully that will change over the next couple of weeks as I expect to see his playing time increase.
— Give another huge kudos to Michael Porter, who was the player of the game in my view and had a career high. You gotta really admire this kid after all the criticism he took, to come back and have a five game stretch like he has had over the last couple of weeks. He will still encounter some problems as the more athletic guards hit the stage on Sunday, but he is now playing with confidence, and as Billy said afterwards, that can (and for Michael has) elevate your game.
— Some have asked recently if the team is playing better without Razor Ramon and if that is indicative of anything. I think not. Ramon has been out against the weakest part of UK’s schedule and there hasnt been any game where they have needed his strength (guarding the other team’s best, athletic scorer). The only game where such a player has existed is Miami, and the Cats struggled on McClinton without him. Sunday against T-Will is just such a game. Hopefully Razor will be there AND healthy….if he is, that is a huge difference.
We will focus more in on Louisville later today and look at the matchups…..they are critical and not all that favorable to UK. But for now, another good win and a great night for the new Road Warriors, Animal Porter and Hawk Landon.