Photo Courtesy of Clay Jackson. Check out more photos from CJ.
So after spending the weekend in the Boro, we return to regular everyday life and the launching of the Kentucky basketball season. I would have never imagined that UK would play 2 exhibition games and I would have to miss them and then would begin their season on Tuesday with another game that I have to miss (thanks to the Election on Tuesday and the likely celebration of my chosen candidate…..I will let you guess which one that is). But nevertheless, I was able to watch the Seattle game and I was generally pleased with Kentucky’s performance. Unlike the game against Pikeville, the defense was generally solid, at least early on, but the offense did not have quite the silky smooth action that we saw on Wednesday. Part of that can be explained by the fact that Jodie Meeks didnt start the game off by hitting 7-9 of three pointers, which has the tendency to open up the offensive side of the ball for other players. However there also seemed to be a bit of malaise from the team, especially in the second half, as it became clear that the Cats believe themselves to be ready to play real competition in games that count. Nevertheless, there were some interesting things to note, both good and bad…..
(1) Saturday night showed why Patrick Patterson is (channeling Dennis Green) who we thought he was, mainly a great college player. He led the team in scoring, dominated the interior and was a team leader on both ends of the floor…..all in his second college game. There are so many things to like about how Patterson plays….from the way he nearly always finds himself in good position on both ends of the floor to the way he encourages his teammates and remains intense on nearly every play. I was on Gregg Doyel’s radio show last week and he asked me how many points a game I thought Patrick would average and I said 11…..and it may turn out that I am a bit low. While Patrick is not a Kevin Durant-like scorer and impact player, he is a consumate college player…..think Tyler Hansborough. He is the kind of player that can impact a game throughout the contest, finish with 20 points and make you say, “wow, I didnt realize he had that many.” He is Chuck Hayes with a jump shot…..and that is really, really good. It is way too early to worry about how long he will be here or what his future is in Lexington….for now, it is just great to be ready to expect the greatest UK freshman season since Bogans and maybe since Chris Mills or Rex Chapman.
(2) We told you all summer to watch for it, and now its here….Mark Coury is an impact player at Kentucky. Say what you want about his athleticism (we are not yet certain he can dunk) and his quickness (think Hubby, wearing 30 pound leg weights), but he is an intelligent “garbage” type player who gets it done. I dont care who are you playing or what are the stakes…..a double-double in a college game is impressive….and Mark was one rebound away. Coury has passed Jared Carter…period….and he will play….and in some games, quite a bit. I for one am happy….and even I, a big Coury Flurry supporter, would have never believed that he would be one of the top 5 scorers on the team for a game….but that is reality.
(3) Great performance by Michael Porter. I have wondered for some time if Porter would be the odd man out at UK and the “one guard too many” on the roster. But with Jasper gone, Porter will be the PG backup….and he showed on Saturday that against certain competition, he can flourish in that role. I want to see him continue his confidence and keep that shooting stroke going….do that, and there will be PT.
(4) Most underrated performer of the first two games…..Joe Crawford. Say what you want about Joe, but he has come off the bench on two straight nights, scored double-digits and provided Billy Clyde an offensive and defensive spark. This team needs Joe to have a star-making season…..I still dont know if it will happen….but now I think it is a possibility.
(5) I am worried about Perry Stevenson. I love the way he blocks shots, his energy and his athleticism. But his offensive ability is tough to watch and he is lost at times in terms of knowing where to be and positioning. He will play this year because he has to….and his athleticism will save him from a lot……but I do worry about his overall effectiveness.
All in all, a good exhibition set…..the Central Arkansas Scottie Pippens come in on Tuesday….we will preview them a lot this week and look in depth at their most famous alumnus….I cant wait for the season to start…..its going to be fun.