I missed the first ten minutes of the game, thanks to the Louisville WAVE 3 affiliate’s decision to lose a signal from the satellite and play an episode of “Mercy” (which apparently stars James Vanderbeek…which is nice). However once the game got going for me, I ended up witnessing a great offensive performance by the Cats and a great second half defensive effort. The Cats shot the ball well, showcased how a couple of made three pointers can open up the game for Wall, Cousins and Patterson and put on a solid beating of the Bulldogs, 80-68. There are a lot of ways we can go on the game, so lets give ten quick notes:
1. John Wall was John Wall: Nationally, the consensus seems to have been reached that the National Player of the Year is Evan Turner. It is funny how that works out, as Wall has played well for the last four games and helped the Cats win three of their last four on the road. Still opinions have been swayed and it looks as if Turner is now the favorite for the award. But while most probably missed it, Wall put on a show tonight. He made 3 three-pointers, a couple of great takes to the basket and a left-handed dunk that took as much skill as any play you will see this season. Who deserves POY may be up for debate, but man John Wall is great.
2. Boogie for Point Guard: When they produce the Boogie highlight film for his UK career, they should have two plays for this game. One was his traditional second half up and under move that showcases why he has the best feet of any big man in the land. But the second was his leading of the break and take to the basket that looked so smooth, it was almost Wall-esque. There arent a handful of big men in America who can do that, and none are as skillful or large as Big Cuz. He can be as good as he wants to be.
3. Patrick Patterson is Where the Cats Need Him to Be: He got the ball on the low post, made moves and got key baskets the couple of times that Georgia made a run. The last three weeks have seen more positive improvement from Pat than we could have hoped and he had his best game yet against Trey Thompkins. Great performance from the Junior leader.
4. Mark Fox is a Great Resource for Comedy: Whether you think he looks like the cheerleader’s dad on “Heroes”, David Wallace from “The Office”, an overworked accountant or simply a guy that could be visited by Chris Hanson, following Mark Fox is good fun, especially if you are with the Turkey Hunter. He is a great coach, but I think his destiny may be as fodder for punchlines.
5. Dodson/Miller Make Shots: When he gets hot, Darnell Dodson can put up points in bunches as well as anyone in the SEC not named Rotnei Clarke. That happened tonight for a small stretch and we all took a deep breath that “Airball Mcgee” from the Tennessee game seemed to have disappeared. Darius also made a couple of good offensive moves and allowed another scoring option when the team needed it, after missing his first few shots. I still contend that one can almost determine how UK plays by how these two guys (and Harris and Liggins at times) perform. It can be that simple.
6. The Bledsoe Situation: It was another relatively poor game for Eric Bledsoe that ended with Calipari basically not playing him during the end of the game. Turkey Hunter mentioned that he didnt believe that Bledsoe looked like he was having any fun and I agree. It has been a steady decline over the last few weeks for Eric and I hope for he and the team’s sake that it improves. UK needs him to be truly great and we havent seen the player that we earlier saw when Chad Ford had him as a potential lottery pick.
7. Jon Hood: Glad you media guys all wrote about how he wanted to play more. What those stories lacked in uniqueness, they also made up for in irrelevance. I am sure Calipari was interested in playing a guy major minutes with two games remaining in the regular season when he hadnt done so all year. Next year is Jon’s time, not this year.
8. Joe Dean Jr’s Comedy is Great: Whether it is was his use of the term “banking board”, his intricate reference to how a bracket works (“if Kentucky is at the top and Vanderbilt at the bottom, they may not have to play until the finals”…thank you Joe) or his Wink Martindale-esque hairstyle, listening to Dean do a game is always entertaining. I have a soft spot in my heart for Dean because of his dad, and thus I look at his comedy like I look at “My Three Sons”…great in its old, unfunniness. Sign him up for another year.
9. Barkley Joins the Celebrity Parade: Sir Charles came to Athens to watch the game on the same night his old arena was closing down. Do you think he did that to see Albert Jackson? No, it was to see Kentucky. That means that Barkley now joins Ashley Judd, Mike Tomlin, Big Ben, Magic Johnson, Michael Douglas, Lebron James, Drake and Bryan the Intern as celebrities who have gone to see UK in person this year. We may not see a season like that again in UK land, so enjoy it.
10. Greivis Vasquez is Strangely Mesmerizing: I know this isnt Kentucky related, but you saw Maryland beat Duke as well as I did and were likely happy. I must say that Greivis Vasquez is the most interesting non-UK player to me in college basketball. The kid can score like crazy, has the biggest d-bagesque way to him of any player I can remember and is utterly hated by other teams. Yet I find myself pulling for him because I hear the unbelievably racist things people say to him (at Virginia Tech it really was shocking last weekend what I heard from the students) and I love how he rises to the challenge and fights through it all. I am sure if I knew him, I wouldnt like him at all. But from afar, and during my short interview with him last week, I found him interesting. Thus if you hear me yelling “GREIVIS” during the NCAA Tournament, you know why.
Big day today as we get another Senior profile, start looking at the NCAA Tournament and launch the new CBS Conference Tournament blog “One Blogging Moment” (they picked the name). Stay tuned…..oh and this video includes potentially my three favorite scenes from the game….Wall’s dunk, the big UK fan and the hot UK coeds cheering. You cant beat that trifecta: