Even though most of them were still in middle school in 2010, the Cats faced a familiar foe this afternoon. Da’Sean Butler, the leading scorer on the West Virginia team that beat John Wall and the Cats back in the 2010 Elite Eight, was the starting power forward for Champagne Chalons-Reims, scoring 10 points in his team’s 81-58 loss.
Although he mocked the Cats by doing the John Wall dance back in 2010, Butler was extremely gracious in defeat this afternoon, praising the Kentucky players for their overwhelming size, talent, and depth. In fact, Butler was so impressed he said that he “might have to jump on the bandwagon” of people predicting the Cats to win it all:
“Extremely talented. Extremely big. Everybody’s active, especially the bigs. They’re a really big team. I heard Bilas had them picked to win it. I might have to jump on the bandwagon. They’re a really good team, man.”
Butler said that Kentucky’s platoon-style substitutions spoke volumes about their depth and hint at good things to come: “You sub out five and your next five is just as strong as your first five, it’s good things coming your way. Very good things.” While the more experienced Champagne squad had the Cats down early, Butler said he was impressed by how Kentucky rallied, took the lead, and never looked back. “They’re a really talented team. As soon as they got up, they got up. If they can do that now, I’m pretty sure they’ll get better as the season goes along. If they can keep us down like that, I’m pretty sure they can keep some good teams down too.”
Could the Cats be developing that killer instinct we’ve been looking for the past few seasons?