The day after is for recovery and reflection. Let’s examine yesterday’s loss, first by looking at what went wrong for the Cats in Bloomington:
— Terrence Jones had a bad game
Everyone has bad days. Athletes are no exception. Terrence Jones turned in his worst performance of the season yesterday, with four points, one rebound, and six turnovers in 28 minutes. More troubling to me was Jones’ demeanor during the second half. He played with no aggression, simply standing around for the most part, and at times, looked as though he was about to cry. I was genuinely concerned that something was wrong with Jones, like an injury or illness, but it seems he just reverted back to freshman Terrence, sulking both on the court and on the bench. Cal insists he just had a bad game, and you know what? That’s okay. It happens to every player, and instead of throwing him under the bus, we should support him. The real test of Terrence’s character will be how he comes out and plays next Saturday.
— We are young
If there was any concern the fans had heading into this game, it was how the young Cats would respond to their first true road test. Assembly Hall was rocking (almost literally) from beginning to end yesterday, and it rattled the Cats, who looked shaky in the first half and struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Now, when we discuss what went right for the Cats a little later, we can talk about their admirable comeback in a hostile environment.
— Everything went right for Indiana
Sometimes, everything just goes right for a team. Shots fall, calls go your way, and the momentum stays with you. Indiana had one of those games. And they deserve all the credit in the world. They outhustled the Cats, stuck to their gameplan, and nearly everyone on their team stepped up when they needed to. Kudos, Hoosiers.
— Foul troubles
Until he got into foul trouble early in the first half, Anthony Davis was handling Cody Zeller just fine in the post. In fact, when Davis returned late in the second half with four fouls, Zeller still hesitated to challenge him, no matter how many times Dickie V told him to. The simple fact is that without Davis in the game, this team struggles to find a rhythm. Also troubling was Kentucky’s poor free throw shooting, which the Cats must improve if they expect to win close games down the stretch.
— Still not guarding the three
The Cats continue to let teams kill them from the outside. Indiana was 9-15 from the three-point line yesterday, including a stretch where they hit seven consecutive threes. If we want to win on the road, we MUST improve our perimeter defense.
— Lack of execution on the final play
Cal said the plan going into the final play was to foul the Hoosiers. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, only Marquis Teague attempted to foul, and without a whistle stopping him, Watford had no problem sinking the game clinching basket (ugh, it still stings). You can chalk the lack of focus and execution up to the Cats’ youth, but it’s yet another teaching moment for Cal to use in practice.
Next up, we’ll discuss what went right for Kentucky yesterday. But for now, linger in what the Cats can improve on for next week.