We are stopped at a Hampton Inn Lobby on our way to Charlottesville, so a few notes:
— The question on our mind, and it looks to be most of the fan’s minds, is what has happened to the defensive prowess of Eric Bledsoe. While his playmaking abilities are unquestioned and he may still be the best three point shooter that UK has going (so long as Darnell Dodson is shooting airballs), the defense from Bledsoe in the last few weeks has not been stellar. Bledsoe was consistently beaten off the dribble yesterday and made defensive errors that either caused his man to score, or led to rotation that gave Tennessee an open dunk. When Bledsoe’s defense struggles, it puts Calipari in an awkward position…the Cats need his offense, but his defense can make it difficult to get stops. Calipari solved it a bit yesterday, when he played Harris for extended minutes and allowed Bledsoe to guard Skylar or Stephen Pearl, but against elite teams with scoring athletes, such a switch will hurt UK on offense. For UK to be its best, Bledsoe has to play better defense…when that happens, UK can put its best team on the floor.
— I likely missed the story that Kentucky wore camoflauge hats into Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday for the team’s practice before the game, because we were out of town. Still, I am amazed that didnt get more play than it did. I have no problem with the act and it is of course a derivative of the famous instance of Miami doing it in a Bowl Game. But when you walk that walk, you do have to back it up, and the team certainly came out flat. This team plays with a chip on its shoulder, and that is one of the reasons it is so successful. But when you do that, you can expect backlash when it doesnt work.
— Speaking of backlash, there has been a great deal of negative reaction to the Scotty Hopson picture doing the John Wall Dance. As with above, I have no problem with it and think it is a natural reaction when you beat a team like Kentucky. If there were a Joakim Noah dance and Boogie did it after beating Florida on national television, I think most UK fans would love it. Hopson is not my favorite player and Tennessee certainly not my favorite team, but I have no problem with him having some fun after a victory.
— Now the question is where do the Cats go from here. If they beat Georgia and Florida, the game will have almost no meaning. However if they drop another game, then the possibility of falling to the fourth #1 seed and a move out to the West Coast and the Salt Lake City region becomes a reality. Take care of business in the last two however and a trip to Syracuse is still in the cards.
— It is the last day of our CBS College Basketball Road Trip and we are headed to Duke-Virginia. If you can, stop by the blog and give us one more view and some good comments. The CBS people have been happy so far, and we would like to finish with a bang. Below are a couple of columns I have written for the site and a couple of them (the Patterson piece and UNC/Louisville versions) should be of interest if you havent seen them.
We are also excited to return to Lexington and get back on the UK train for the rest of the year. Thanks for keeping the site going while we were gone and I look forward to taking us towards title #8