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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

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  • The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

    The Good

    * Two Came Back. There clearly wasn't much of anything good that happened in that game last night. You pretty much have to dig deep to find anything positive for Kentucky, and the most enjoyment I got all night was probably the moment AllState ran that weird robot commercial. But Reid Travis and Keldon Johnson did show up. Both guys--one a twenty-two-year-old vet, the other in his first collegiate game--showed some grit and pride. Unfortunately they were the only two.

    * Silver Whining, Pt. I. It was the first game of the season. We have months left to play. Keep telling yourself that. I whispered it to myself last night until I fell asleep. It almost helped.

    * Silver Whining, Pt. II. We've seen similar (though not quite as abysmal) defense from Kentucky's teams before. Remember the John Wall bunch early in the season. If they would've played a team with the talent we ran up against last night they would've likely been beaten badly in November. They just couldn't guard until well into the season. But the difference: that team had some pride. They would've willed themselves to at least make that a game last night. This UK team quit.

    * One and Drone. We went into that game worried that we were going to lose our entire roster to the NBA after this season. Well, worry no more. I watched that game and saw one pro for UK: Keldon Johnson. We lament all the time on here how we don't need pros; well, you saw what happens when a team lines up pros against guys who aren't. To be fair I think we do have guys who are so much better than they showed, PJ Washington among them, but if you were watching that as an impartial viewer and trying to pick out the NBA-ready individual talent, you weren't paying much attention to the Cats.

    The Bad

    * Not Ready for Prime Time Players, Pt. I. So we had a group of guys go out there last night who went all deer-in-the-headlights, and they weren't all freshmen. I thought Nick Richards played like he might rip off his jersey at one time and reveal a Duke jersey underneath. Quade Green got in the game and proceeded to shoot such unimaginably bad shots that I had to take nine Tums to fight the sickness. EJ Montgomery showed a couple of things, but his defense is so bad that we might as well be playing with four on that end. Duke had the younger team but you couldn't tell it.

    * Turn, Turn, Turn. Kentucky forced four turnovers last night. Four. This was a problem that revealed itself in the exhibition games too, and you wonder if Kentucky might be too big and too (gulp) slow.

    * No Point Guard U. The point guard situation is a major worry for Kentucky. Good Cal teams always have that bulldog point guard, and last night we got one field goal and five assists combined from our two point guards. That won't get it done on a stage like that. This is another issue that sort of cropped up in the exhibitions, and if we're being honest with ourselves I have to say that I watch Immanuel Quickley and see somebody who has a long way to go. I'm just not sure what he brings to the table and I haven't been sure in any of the games we've seen so far after the Bahamas.

    * Three Dog Night. Kentucky reverted to last season's form by clanking virtually every three pointer it took until the final minutes. The reason for this was obvious: terrible shots. Tyler Herro, God love him, wanted to jack everything up as soon as it touched his hands. That was a recipe for disaster in a game like that.

    * Stuff of Nightmares. How much does John Calipari hate RJ Barrett? Oh, he'd never say that aloud, but at this point RJ Barrett has entered Cal's psyche and rented a room there. Going back to the U19 games, moving up through Barrett picking Duke, and then into that atrocity last night, Barrett has just knifed Cal's teams again and again. Last night he might as well have been playing a different sport. You know it has to give Cal an ulcer.

    The Ugly

    * About That Defense. You could go your whole life and not see anything like that defensively. Duke was doing easy stuff: bring it down, throw it to the wing, let the guy take a couple of dribbles and set himself up at the top of the key, and then DRIVE IT AS IF YOUR EVER-LOVING LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. We knew what they were going to do and still couldn't stop it. There was a play in the second half where Zion Williamson had the ball, it was obvious he was positioning himself for (yet another) left-handed drive, and Keldon Johnson just could not slide over in front of Zion. That's the sort of stuff that will make you mumble to yourself like a maniac as you're walking down the hall at work.

    * Not Ready for Prime Time Players, Pt. II. So here we are on November 7th clearly out of the discussion for even SEC champion, at least if you listen to the experts--and virtually all UK fans. Going into the game Kentucky was the team on everybody's lips. I counted at least 10 people who write and think about college basketball for a living who picked Kentucky to win it all, and then we witness a game like that? Basically what's going to happen now is that Kentucky is going to have to look itself in the mirror and buy in to hard work. They're going to have to find a way to become a good defensive basketball team. The question is: do they have the horses to do it?
    Last edited by Will Lavender; 11-07-2018, 07:48 AM.

  • #2
    I watched that game and I wasn't even mad, honestly. I mentioned in another thread that sometimes you get caught in a torpedo, and it's over before it starts. It doesn't happen often to Kentucky -- especially John Calipari teams -- but it's happened before and it will happen again.

    I took two things away from last night's game, and they're both obvious: 1) we as a fan base need to recalculate our expectations, at least early. This is a team that has glaring deficiencies, particularly on the defense end. They'll have to work hard and buy in completely. 2) Duke's Big Three might be the most ridiculous one-two-three punch of basketball talent on one team to ever hit a college basketball court. I don't expect them to go undefeated or anything -- they're too young and the roster is still uneven -- but that's going to be a bear of a team, and they might hang 150 on some poor, unsuspecting squads in November/December.

    Cal will use the tape and have the guys study it, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. There's nothing to take away from something that demoralizing.

    Burn it, get to work, and get ready for Friday night and act like the season starts in earnest there.
    Last edited by KCKUKFan; 11-07-2018, 08:02 AM.

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    • #3
      Also, that game reminded me of the Kansas game in our 38-1 year. Obviously, that was a lower scoring affair, but it was the same sort of complete shellacking.

      Sometimes craziness like that happens super early in the year, even to good basketball teams.

      Comment


      • #4
        God bless you Will for doing this after that atrocity last night.

        My guess is that it will take a win over North Carolina for this team to this have any semblance of confidence to play and win on the big stage. It may not comeback fully then. This will be in the back of their minds the rest of the season. This team will have to show an extreme amount of high character to come back from last night and be a true contender for a national title. It could happen. Cal has worked near miracles before but I don't really expect it now. I suspect this season will now be a lot like last season. A lot of uneven play and quite a few losses. By Feb we will be hoping for a nice run to gain some momentum for the NCAA's.
        Kentucky fan since 1971.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KevinHall View Post
          God bless you Will for doing this after that atrocity last night.

          My guess is that it will take a win over North Carolina for this team to this have any semblance of confidence to play and win on the big stage. It may not comeback fully then. This will be in the back of their minds the rest of the season. This team will have to show an extreme amount of high character to come back from last night and be a true contender for a national title. It could happen. Cal has worked near miracles before but I don't really expect it now. I suspect this season will now be a lot like last season. A lot of uneven play and quite a few losses. By Feb we will be hoping for a nice run to gain some momentum for the NCAA's.
          I disagree, but only because this team is built much better than last year's team. Last year's team had some big holes on both ends of the court that just couldn't be fixed.

          What I saw last night was (mostly) stuff that can be shored up in practice.

          Also, what we saw from Duke last night was some sort of superhuman vortex of awesomeness. We didn't play any defense, but that team looked like they could run with Golden State. They're not that good and we're not that bad.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KCKUKFan View Post

            Burn it, get to work, and get ready for Friday night and act like the season starts in earnest there.
            I want to say Southern Illinois is in trouble, but they'll probably have a guy go out and get 25.

            Reports during the Transy game were that Transy's coach was yelling at his players telling them Kentucky couldn't stop them. That was a worrying sign I wanted to chalk up to low energy, a murmuring Rupp crowd, etc., but it turns out that it's probably a systemic issue.

            Defense is usually about want-to. Scrap. Grit. But sometimes you just don't have the right mix of players to be a good defensive team.

            One thing this team doesn't have is a protector at the rim. That's not a deal-breaker necessarily: the Monk/Fox/Bam team didn't really have that. But in a game like last night's, you really need to have a big who can slide over and erase some shots when teams are relentlessly trying to drive the ball on you.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by KCKUKFan View Post

              I disagree, but only because this team is built much better than last year's team. Last year's team had some big holes on both ends of the court that just couldn't be fixed.

              What I saw last night was (mostly) stuff that can be shored up in practice.

              Also, what we saw from Duke last night was some sort of superhuman vortex of awesomeness. We didn't play any defense, but that team looked like they could run with Golden State. They're not that good and we're not that bad.
              This team does have more talent. But if that talent doesn't or can't compete at the top level then you can forget about a national championship,Final Four or even a nice run in the NCAA's. Long season so we will see. To go with an election day saying, early returns do not look promising.
              Kentucky fan since 1971.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KCKUKFan View Post
                Also, what we saw from Duke last night was some sort of superhuman vortex of awesomeness. We didn't play any defense, but that team looked like they could run with Golden State. They're not that good and we're not that bad.
                They hit something like 6 of 8 threes early, and I thought a few of those were contested. Zion's in particular set a tone that I think rattled us, because YOU KNOW Cal was telling the team before the game that that guy can't shoot.

                They got all kinds of mid-range jumpers to fall as well, and a bunch of shots that they threw up off-balance in the paint. Sort of a perfect storm.

                I think our soft defense gave them a glimpse of what they could do to us, and they played the game with very little resistance. It was easy basketball for the most part. They weren't running complicated out-of-bounds plays or screening all over the court. Mostly it was just one pass and then a drive right at the rim. They also kicked the ball to the corner for threes, and I would say they got at least 20 wide frigging open shots from out there.

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                • #9
                  UK/Cal’s problem continues to be lack of top level talent. We haven’t had it recently and don’t have it his year. He continues to miss on the top 5 level players in recruiting and it continues to hurt the team. It’s clear that he needs the top guys to make this thing successful. Not a knock, just a fact.

                  Duke looks to be on another planet from UK (and maybe everyone else). They friggin scored 120 points against the #2 team in the country. That’s absurd.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KevinHall View Post

                    This team does have more talent. But if that talent doesn't or can't compete at the top level then you can forget about a national championship,Final Four or even a nice run in the NCAA's. Long season so we will see. To go with an election day saying, early returns do not look promising.
                    You've got to have a competitive point guard to win in college basketball. Absolutely have to.

                    If the guy who has the ball in his hands the most is the weak link on your team, then you're doomed. You could be super stout defensively or animalistic on the glass or block 12 shots a game or whatever--if you have no point guard, you'll go nowhere.

                    Our point guards have shown NOTHING in the two exhibitions and the game last night. Nada. Total non-factors.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JFCats22 View Post
                      UK/Cal’s problem continues to be lack of top level talent. We haven’t had it recently and don’t have it his year. He continues to miss on the top 5 level players in recruiting and it continues to hurt the team. It’s clear that he needs the top guys to make this thing successful. Not a knock, just a fact.

                      Duke looks to be on another planet from UK (and maybe everyone else). They friggin scored 120 points against the #2 team in the country. That’s absurd.
                      The thing is though we had guys who have played top level basketball on big stages. Those guys have to show up.

                      PJ Washington was a game-wrecker last year against good teams. There's no reason he should be a no-show last night. Ashton Hagans was super heralded out of high school. He shouldn't be floating through a game like that. EJ Montgomery was recruited by everybody in the free world, including Duke. He shouldn't be so lost on defense.

                      We have nobody like Barrett or Williamson, clearly, but I don't buy that we don't have top end talent. Like, at all.

                      The top end talent we have just wilted.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                        The thing is though we had guys who have played top level basketball on big stages. Those guys have to show up.

                        PJ Washington was a game-wrecker last year against good teams. There's no reason he should be a no-show last night. Ashton Hagans was super heralded out of high school. He shouldn't be floating through a game like that. EJ Montgomery was recruited by everybody in the free world, including Duke. He shouldn't be so lost on defense.

                        We have nobody like Barrett or Williamson, clearly, but I don't buy that we don't have top end talent. Like, at all.

                        The top end talent we have just wilted.
                        Who is the top end talent? I don't see it. It's certainly not PJ. Hagans was a top 12-14 ranked recruit. That's not the elite level I am talking about.

                        I'm not talking like top 25-50ish college players. I am talking about guys like Wall, Cousins, Randle, Davis, MKG, Towns, Fox, Monk, etc... UK does not have the top tier talent that Cal has shown he has to have to have great teams.

                        I'm sure this team will figure it out and turn it around but I still (until proven otherwise) don't believe Cal's system works (I mean works as in Final Fours/National Titles) without having the best of the best players on the roster.

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                        • #13
                          PJ looked like a clown last night. Mugging for the camera, fake tough guy posing in pre-game and absolutely played scared like he didn’t want to be there.
                          Jordan Peterson is my spirit animal...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JFCats22 View Post

                            Who is the top end talent? I don't see it. It's certainly not PJ. Hagans was a top 12-14 ranked recruit. That's not the elite level I am talking about.
                            Johnson and Travis have shown they both could be. But PJ could definitely be that guy. We've seen it in glimpses. I think many thought he could bottle the Kansas St. performance and be, maybe not a DeMarcus Cousins sort, but definitely a double double type. Those are essential in college basketball, particularly if they have some experience under their belts. Villanova's won two titles behind guys like that.

                            Ashton Hagans reclassified so his ranking is a little skewed, but almost everybody you saw had him ranked higher than Tre Jones.

                            Both those guys HAVE TO play better. Have to.

                            Kentucky had two players in Travis and Johnson go out and perform sort of like you would expect. If you would've told me that Kentucky would put up 80+ and get around 20 from Travis and Johnson, I would've said they win that game.

                            The problem with this team through the exhibitions and last night has nothing to do with top end talent. They simply can't or won't guard. Even walk-ons we've had in this program could go out and do that. It's arguable that defense is even a talent issue. Like my high school coach always said: defense is all gumption.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Going on with the above point:

                              I don't think 2011 had a lot of top end talent. They also played six players virtually all year. They started a JUCO transfer at center who wasn't allowed to shoot until the last month of the year.

                              At this point in that season, that bunch went out to Maui and acquitted themselves well until getting thrashed by UCONN.

                              If that team can play defense, this team should be able to better than what we've seen so far.

                              Comment

                              The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Duke Edition

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