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Takeaways From UK’s First Game In The Bahamas

Day 1 of basketball in the Bahamas is in the books and fans are very satisfied with what they saw from the Cats in their first outing. The KSR quintet is now back at the resort after a long and potentially dangerous ride in the back of a stranger’s pickup truck and we’re about to head out to see how people do Sunday Funday around here. But first, I’ll share with you my observations from the game.


Alex Poythress was at his best.

“He was terrific,” Coach Cal said of his veteran forward. “That’s as good as he’s played.”

Poythress was very active on both ends, showing off that incredible athleticism he possesses. He looked like the Alex Poythress from the Duke game his freshman season when he was hauling in rebounds and dunking over the top of defenders. His missed dunk today against Puerto Rico, a one-handed attempt off an Aaron Harrison lob, would’ve been a SportsCenter Top 10 play, no doubt. Harrison estimates Alex’s hand was 12 feet in the air when he caught the ball.

Calipari added, “He just does things the normal players can’t do. To be honest, the stuff he does, I can’t teach. I wish I could but I can’t.”

Awesome performance from Alex and it made me even more optimistic about his game this coming season.

It’s going to be tough to keep Tyler Ulis off the floor.

The Ulis debut backed up everything we’ve heard and seen from UK’s summer practices. The kid is good. He lived up to the hype today by showing off his stifling defense in the full court and his vision on the offensive end. He goes wherever he wants with the ball and puts it in the hands of the open man, leading Jay Bilas to say on the broadcast, “A lot of guys look, but he sees.” The box score credits him with five assists but it could’ve easily been more. He’s going to be very valuable in the UK backcourt this year.

The Five-In, Five-Out rotation will continue.

Coach Cal’s “platoon” strategy will stick around all week, he told us after Game 1. He considered going down to an eight-man rotation but the six games in eight days schedule is an exhausting stretch of basketball and he wants to keep the players as fresh as possible.

Alex said he likes the five-man units because it allows them to go all out while they are in without having to worry about wearing themselves out. Aaron wonders if they may keep it up once the real basketball begins in the regular season.

Aaron Harrison believes this group is special.

“Not many teams, college or pro, can say you have 10 guys that can actually be on the floor and compete. So we’re just a special team.”

Harrison is going to be a special player, too. He looked to be an all-around better player today, showing off improved skills across the board, including a nice one-handed flush on a drive down the lane. In the postgame press conference he said we can expect to see more of those in his sophomore campaign.

Dakari Johnson is in great shape.

Much like the Tyler Ulis talk coming out of summer practices, Dakari’s weight loss has been a hot topic in BBN and it was on display today. Dakari shed several of those chubby pounds and it’s made him a better player because he is running the floor and sustaining energy at a rate he just couldn’t do last year. I was a big believer in Willie being this team’s starting center, but I’m not so sure after seeing the new Dakari Johnson.

Andrew and Aaron Harrison are also in much better shape than they were a year ago.

Karl Towns is the real deal.

Also from the living-up-to-the-hype department, Karl Towns is the truth. The new big man and 2014 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year is smooth yet powerful with the basketball. He’s very skilled offensively and may be one of the team’s go-to scorers before the season’s over. I’m excited to see what he does in the week ahead after flirting with a double-double in his first appearance in blue. Something tells me he is just getting started.



Devin Booker too.

Speaking of smooth, Devin Booker has a gorgeous jumper. I believe there was a stretch when he hit a three, stole the ball and then made a nice dish to Aaron Harrison for a score. Or maybe I made that up. Something cool happened and he played a leading role in my excitement. He, like the others, is going be very fun to watch. (This is getting repetitive but they all looked so good today.)

Andrew Harrison’s crossover was lethal.

And it led to this awesome photo from UK photographer Chet White:

We’ll shut’er down after that one.

Go Cats, everybody.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

17 Comments for Takeaways From UK’s First Game In The Bahamas

  1. Susan
    7:36 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    The scariest thing about Aaron’s comment is he’s wrong. We have 12 (TWELVE) guys that can come in and play!!! “Special” doesn’t even begin to describe this phenomenon! Have a happy day!

  2. Susan
    7:39 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    For the love of sweet Jesus! Twelve.

    • say waaa
      7:47 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

      12!!!! that’s 2 more than 10. woahhh!!!

  3. Mass Confusion
    7:50 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    After Andrew make the pass, does the guy in the white cut off shirt (on the baseline) give Drew the double bird?

  4. NotMattJones
    8:08 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    I wasn’t impressed with Towns. Took an unnecessary 3 as Bilas mentioned, and I wasn’t impressed with his fadeaway technique on that shot. Outside of dunks I just don’t think he has much agility or smoothness. I like that he is working on his jump hook becuase that is unguardable with his length.

    1) Towns doesn’t start this year at any point
    2) I think Towns coming back is in play. Look, if he isn’t a reliable shooter from outside and doesn’t have elite athleticism, I don’t think he’s a lock for the Lottery of 2015.
    3) Tyler Ulis is gonna get 20+ minutes a game. Our team is better when he plays offense and defense. Sets the tone.
    4) Pencil in a fitter Dakari into the starting lineup with Willie.
    5) We know Poythress can dunk. He is great on the boards and can block shots. Still has lapses on defense and until he is proven he can beat a zone, he doesn’t help us at the 3.

    • wow
      8:28 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

      Wow you are stupid. I don’t know if there is really anything else to say.

    • ukfan
      8:31 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

      What an idiot.. Do us all a favor and keep your opinions to yourself from now on. Actually, just stop thinking all together.

    • Michael
      8:32 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

      ^^ I concur ^^

    • Han
      9:36 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

      1) There are many, many of us here that would take a bet on that. Towns is still pretty raw, but even if everyone’s healthy, Towns could certainly find his way into the lineup at the 4 or 5 depending on match ups and his development.

      2) He could decide to come back out of desire for academics or to work on parts of his game. He could end up not seeing a ton of minutes if Dakari, Willie, Marcus and Trey all play great all year. The draft could end up loaded with big men, like ours, and NBA GMs could all decide to stop drafting on potential… Ok, that ain’t gonna happen. Towns is probably close to lottery on potential alone, dude. If he keeps working on his shot and doesn’t get any taller, he could theoretically end up a 3, but he’s otherwise looking like a pretty enticing 4 in the NBA.

      3) Probably. It will depend on Booker, too, and also Hawkins. Ullis is a play maker, but Cal may prefer to keep him as a change of pace with Andrew all season, so this may not be Tyler’s team til next year.

      4) I’ve kept wondering about this. People seem to have forgotten that Dakari was starting over Willie before Willie got hurt last year. Cal liked the fire and consistency he was bringing. Willie was still giving us one night with 5-8 blocks followed by a night or two of forgettable play and foul trouble. Willie healthy will compete for a starting spot (probably vs Dakari at the 5), but I think Dakari had move ahead of him anyway. Willie may still have the higher draft stock coming off the bench because of his defensive ability, but if Dakari consistently brings the hustle, that may change.

      5) With enough scoring elsewhere, you can live without an outside shooter at the 3, especially in the DDMO. Penetration opens up lobs and open shooters, so if Alex can handle the ball well and find his openings on the baseline (the latter is his specialty), it’s still his spot to lose. The fire he can bring, including on D, can’t clearly be replaced by anyone else on the roster yet. Booker showed some flashes on D, but he doesn’t have the experience or the strength yet to hold his own against a lot of the forwards we’ll face. And still, remember that Alex is capable of 20+ a night. It’s just not really in the best interest of the team to try to make that happen..

  5. Boil on Bobby Knights A$$
    8:30 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    Tyler Ulis kicks A$$………I hope he’ll be around for awhile………

  6. Blake
    9:07 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    I feel like Tyler Ulis would have been very valuable against uconn last year.

  7. Han
    9:24 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    If we only ever go 10 deep, we’re going to have a couple pretty good guys on the bench. Assuming no red shirts and everyone’s healthy, it would look like Hawkins and Willis would be 11th and 12th off the bench (depending on foul trouble), and both have looked pretty good at times last year and today.

    Also, if you go with that assumption, we’d be playing 4 “guards,” 5 “forwards” and 1 “center” per the roster. Obviously WCS, Lee and Towns could all see time at the 5. Maybe even Lyles in a pinch.

  8. TrueUKfan
    10:29 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    They looked confident, they looked for each other more, Poythress played with all around fight and hunger we need. All of them played well. I see a team.

  9. Tranetech
    11:15 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    I thought they all played great for a first game. This team will be everyone’s nightmare by the time Kansas rolls in. Jay Bilas was great.

  10. LondonKnights
    9:16 am August 11, 2014 Permalink

    Harrison’s crossover was nice, but lets not go crazy. It wasn’t exactly Gary Payton guarding him. The fat kid from Teen Wolf would have given him more trouble.

  11. SDJack
    9:24 am August 11, 2014 Permalink

    I want a full res copy of that Chet White photo :/

  12. bokees
    12:31 pm August 12, 2014 Permalink

    does anyone know of a live stream llink for the game today