I rushed back from my yellow-legged chicken at Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg this afternoon to get to the Joe Craft Center for today’s Kentucky basketball practice. There were a handful of media members watching the Cats practice from up top, and I had the honor and pleasure of being among that group.
UK asked us to keep our analysis pretty general and vague, so my notes from today’s practice will be just that. Sorry, the last thing I want is an angry Coach Cal showing up at my door tonight to break legs. I’ll play by the rules, in this case.
So here are some brief, not-too-specific observations…
Alex Poythress and Dominique Hawkins watched from the sideline.
We’ll begin with the injury news: Dominique Hawkins is still out with his broken hand and Alex Poythress was a DNP as well. They watched practice from the exercise bikes. Poythress is expected to return this weekend.
Charles Matthews had a heavily-taped left hand, but he did practice. We were told it was a jammed finger; nothing too serious.
Everyone else looked healthy, including Derek Willis and his finger.
Whoever left Jamal Murray off the All-SEC ballot is an idiot.
Murray is a star and that was clear in today’s practice, even though it was just a practice. He made a couple of moves that I can’t wait to see him do on someone other than his teammates, and showed that he score just about any way imaginable. He and Ulis have really perfected that running floater in the lane, to go along with about a thousand other weapons in his arsenal. Kid can really score.
Skal Labissiere makes dunking look to effortless.
When it comes to dunking on people’s heads, the newly-eligible Labissiere has picked up right where Willie Cauley-Stein (and those before him) left off. Maybe it was my angle, but I swear Skal’s hands were up higher than the shot clock on several of his dunk attempts. He and Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress will have a field day catching lobs from Kentucky’s three point guards this season. Highlight reel plays galore.
Skal isn’t all dunks, though. We caught a glimpse of his post and midrange game too. Good luck with that, college basketball.
Derek Willis hit every shot he took.
Be careful with that information, radio callers. Let’s not set the bar too high for our boy. I believe we said the same thing about Practice Willis in his first two seasons too. Don’t get carried away.
But he did hit everything.
Isaac Humphries will be a big time contributor… one day.
The potential is definitely there. Still work to be done, but the effort and will to work are there.
Cal was on him pretty good today about catching the basketball. That, and a couple other little things he needs to improve. His day will come eventually and we will all be happy when it does.
Ulis, Briscoe, Murray, Lee and Labissiere were the ‘starting five.’
If you want an idea of what lineup Cal may roll out for the first game, today’s first team in practice was Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Marcus Lee and Skal Labissiere. My guess is Alex Poythress will replace Lee in that bunch when healthy, but if today’s groupings were any indication of what’s to come, the three point guards will play together with Labissiere and either Lee or Poythress.
The rebounding/treadmill drill looked exhausting.
One of the most fun drills to watch was the one-on-one rebounding drill that sent a player to the world’s fastest treadmill in the corner. Players were matched up evenly by size and then they fought for rebounds off a covered rim, with the loser heading to the treadmill for a casual sprint. I was out of breath just watching. That thing looked like it was going 70 mph.
Ulis is definitely Cal’s leader.
Several times throughout the practice, Cal called on Ulis to yell to his team or to tell someone what they did wrong. Each time, Ulis was there with something to say. Cal’s gotta love that.
Is it basketball season yet?