photo by Pablo Alcala
It was another moderately depressing day in Rupp Arena as Miami (Fl) (to quote Billy Clyde) “just whipped us.” The first half of the game was one of the poorer performances in Rupp in recent years, as Miami took open three after open three to begin a run that led to a 20 point halftime lead. The second half saw a bit of a better performance, but the lead was to big to overcome and the Cats fell at the end. A few notes from before and after the game….
— Whether spoken or not, the Liggins/Porter situtation is overhwhelming this team. Today’s game was by far the most blatant example, but it has haunted this team all season. The bottom line….when Porter is running the point, the team plays anywhere from mediocre to awful. When Liggins is at point, the team plays anywhere from mediocre to very good. IF one were to do a +/- ratio, they would find that Porter’s is by far in the negative and Liggins is in the positive. Tonight, Porter played the majority of the first half, and the team was down 20. Liggins played the majority of the second, and they made a comeback. No media member (including me) was ballsy enough to ask Gillispie about this straight up, but a few hinted at the issue. Gillispie’s answers ranged from dodging the question, to saying he didnt want to answer questions about individuals to blantantly being rude to a female college questioner. Needless to say, he doesnt want to talk about the topic.
— Having said all of that, the fans are growing fairly restless. The most obvious example was when Porter got his fifth foul and some in the crowd (including many in the student section) cheered the call. Whatever folks think of Porter’s talent, he gives 100 percent effort and was playing after getting knocked out last game. A bit more respect should be due. Be upset at the coach’s decision to play him, but dont take it out on the kid.
— Get Patterson the ball. Seriously, he took 13 shots and he should have taken about 22. This team’s inability to get him the ball in the post is the main reason for the lack of offensive production.
— Having said that, I dont believe this is why they lost the game. This team will struggle offensively all year. That is why it is imperative that the defense be solid and in the first half, the Cats’ defense was atrocious. Open three after open three, not finding the man in transition and Jodie Meeks and Michael Porter getting taken off the dribble on every possession. A terrible performance that Gillispie said showcased a lack of effort that cannot be repeated.
— When asked about bad starts at the beginning of the game, Gillispie said he had no answer as to why, and refused to talk about lineups.
— Better game for Perry Stevenson, although he still has hands of stone.
— A good, if not great performance by DeAndre Liggins, who clearly has a relationship with Gillispie unlike any other. This is the first game of the year that I sat next to the bench and there was an interaction in which Billy Clyde was yelling at Liggins and DeAndre just looked at him with a frown and said, “Calm Down Coach.” Gillispie looked away, then turned back and realized what had been said and returned with , “Dont Tell me to calm down!” Liggins just looked at him again and said, “Just calm down, its fine.” Gillispie didnt take him out and dropped the issue. I would venture that no other player would say that to Gillispie and I wonder if any others would get that reaction.
— Darius Miller is terrified to shoot for some reason or another. He passed up open shot after open shot and that has to change if the offense is to improve.
— Finally, Gillispie on the bench is fascinating to watch. He spends little time calling plays (he does a few and Cox does a few), but is always yelling about effort and intensity…..and his focus is solely on the defensive end. There is no doubt that Liggins, Galloway and Miller are the biggest targets of his ire. They receive constant teaching/criticism and there is rarely a play when Miller and Liggins dont receive some sort of high volume comment. He is the loudest coach I have ever been around, although his cursing is surpassed by Coach K.
Today was an important game that unfortunately the Cats lost. Assuming they only lose to Louisville the rest of the way, a four loss non-conference schedule is not devastating, but it isnt great either. The onus will be on Kentucky to have a big conference run in a really down SEC. The Cats could have really used this one, but the combination of McClinton and a poor defense/inept first half made it impossible. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.