The Cats crush a pitiful Florida International team 92-49 and for the first time this season we get to see the 5 best UK players on the floor at the same time. And, I think it’s no coincidence that this was the best UK has looked all season. On the defensive end of the floor, the Cats were aggresive and on offense they moved the ball crisply and with purpose. This game gives you hope that if Crawford/Patterson/Bradley/Meeks/Jasper stay healthy, this team may win more games than expected. A few notes from the game:
(1) It’s amazing how much better Ramel Bradley is when all of the offense does not revolve around him. He was aggresive the entire game, didn’t have to force shots, and it shows in his final stat line: 22pts, 5 rbs, 4 asts, 4 stls, 1 TO. I think it helps that Bradley can be a team leader on the floor without actually have nearly all the pressure on him to score and handle the ball.
(2) I think it became severely obvious that the loss of Jasper early in the year was a bigger hurt to the Cats than Meeks. Jasper showed a great ability to feed the post to Patterson, and also push the ball up the floor under control, something Michael Porter struggled with. And, with the other significant players all being scorers, Jasper doesn’t have to take more than a couple shots a game. He also led the team with 10 rebounds, which is amazing for a point guard. It shouldn’t be too much longer before Jasper is starting and playing 35 minutes a game.
(3) I truly feel bad for Jared Carter because if he hadn’t been injured for nearly his entire career, who knows how good he would be. But, right now, he is an absolute lost cause. His hands are extremely weak, and he is a defensive liability. Maybe he will get stronger in his upper body throughout the season, but right now he is only hurting the team when he is on the floor.
(4) Why AJ Stewart isn’t even getting a whiff of the floor, even in the biggest blowout of the year is baffling. He must be the worst practice player on the team. He has shown flashes of some offensive skills, and is clearly one of the more athletic guys on the team. With the 5 best players all back and somewhat healthy, Stewart’s minutes were going to go down anyway, but he should be a 5-8 minute a game guy unless there is something internal going on. Dusty Mills saw the floor tonight for cryin out loud.
Nonetheless, a really good performance from the Cats today, and it gives you hope of challenging UL next weekend and in the SEC. If the 5 best guys remain healthy all year, there should be harldy no games where the Cats are not competitive. Now, get excited for the football game in a little less than 2 hours.