Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kentucky 81 - 70 Morehead St. (No. 2,093)

OK, so imagine you are Nerlens Noel, or Archie Goodwin, or any of Kentucky's other highly-regarded freshmen.  You know, of course, that Kentucky is the winningest basketball program of all time.  You know about Coach Cal, and the rabid fans, and Anthony Davis.  But honestly, you can't be expected to know about Morehead State.  You don't know that the Eagles were down for years, but that Donnie Tyndall built took them to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2011 -- or that the 2011 Eagles upset Louisville in the first round of the tournament -- or that Tyndall left after last season to become the new coach at Southern Mississippi -- or that the folks at Morehead went out and hired Sean Woods to replace him -- or that Woods was one of the "Unforgettable" Kentucky players who lost to Christian Laettner's Duke team back in 1992 -- or that Woods is a Pitino disciple and a pretty good coach -- or that this is by far the biggest game of the year for Morehead and that they will play with white-hot intensity.

No, you don't know that stuff -- more matter how many times Calipari tries to warn you.  Instead, you think it's the day before Thanksgiving, you're about to play some team you've never heard of, and the last team you never heard of -- Lafayette -- didn't put up much of a struggle.  You're probably expecting a relatively pleasant evening followed by a big Thanksgiving meal.

And so you find yourself down 44-38 with 16:34 left in the game, and Calipari is yelling at everyone, and the fans are annoyed, and Morehead is ALL OVER THE PLACE with a pressing defense, and they're stealing the ball, and grabbing rebounds, and just causing all sorts of trouble, and suddenly you realize that there's more to this whole "Kentucky" experience than you realized.

But if your this year's Kentucky freshmen, you don't panic, you don't start shooting three's from all over the place, you don't hang your heads.  Instead, you buckle down and start playing harder.  You outscore the Eagles 43-26 the rest of the way, and get away with an 11-point win.

Still, UK has some issues.  According to Ken Pomeroy, the Cats are 288th in the country at preventing offensive rebounds -- and they had a big problem with that again last night.  The Eagles got 16 offensive rebounds, while the Cats got only eight.  Calipari said that the Cats will have to get better at dealing with teams that play a physical style, and I certainly agree with that.  But this team is full of long, thin guys -- we don't have a DeMarcus Cousins or Patrick Patterson -- and I am very worried that they'll get pushed around  more than we're used to.  Kyle Wiltjer also continues to be inconsistent -- he had only 9 points, and the Cats need him to become more active with the ball.

On the other hand, we have a lot to be thankful for.  We can be thankful for Nerlens Noel, who throws himself on the floor more than any other big guy I can remember.  We can be thankful for Alex Poythress, who had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and his usual selection of thunderous dunks.  We can be thankful for Archie Goodwin, who is still having to play point guard, and who scored 28 points without taking a single three-point shot.  And, of course, we can be thankful for Coach Cal, who will have to spend his Thanksgiving figuring out how to make this team better while the rest of us can enjoy food, family, and memories.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Grevey
      White H-O-R-

      "Right now," Don Criqui says, "Jo Jo has a problem ..."

      Delete
    2. -E!

      KEVIN GREVEY HEADS TO THE SEMIS!

      "I definitely had some strategy this time," says Grevey.

      Delete
    3. Semis:

      -- Grevey vs. Pete Maravich
      -- Paul Westphal vs. Wilbur Holland or Maurice Lucas

      Delete