It was an absolutely hideous game to watch tonight, but there are a number of notes to get to:
(1) Tubby Smith was as frustrated as I can remember after the game. He is absolutely baffled at this team’s lack of effort and its inability to even give minimal performance in these secondary games. Slow starts are sometimes forgiveable, but this team was up 11 with ten minutes to go and then squandered the lead, even trailing towards the end. It is unfathomable how that can happen at home, and Smith seems to be at his wits end.
(2) There are some issues with this team’s chemistry right now. I have debated whether to go into this in great detail, but it is clear that some of the behind-the-scenes issues dealing with various players on the team are showcasing themselves on the court. This is a tight-knit team, but there are outliers….and I do think it is having an effect on the play and morale of the team at times.
(3) Jared Carter played a great deal tonight in some clutch situations and showed some tenacity. His biggest problem at this point is his lack of quickness and inability to help via the offensive playbook. One of the often forgotten roles of Woo and Thomas when they play the 5 is their mastery of the offensive plays and their ability to generally be in the right place at the right time. Carter is getting better, but is still not there yet. Having said that, he has shown a knack at finishing to a greater degree than the other center options when he is in the correct position. I dont expect to see him play much after Morris gets back, but his development for the future is promising.
(4) Ramel Bradley is slowly clicking into gear. There is no doubt that Bradley is the de facto leader of this team and his spirit/morale feeds virtually all the other guys. Bradley is never mad, but he can be disappointed and when that happens, the team’s morale often falls as well. As we get closer to the Morris games, watching Bradley will be very interesting.
Fans should make no mistake. Unlike Iona and Ohio, this Central Florida team is not a good “sleeper” team that can make noise come tournament team. This is a bottom tier group from Conference USA that is low on talent and not all that cohesive a unit. For them to not only play Kentucky close, but to make an eleven point comeback in the last ten minutes is very troubling.
Having said that, the Cats are 10-3. That isnt great, but considering how they have looked at times, it could be worse.