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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Monmouth Edition

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

    The Good

    * Blow Out City, Pop. Us. So it's good to see a lopsided victory, one in which the Cats looked vastly superior to the other team. Usually you really don't get anything from forty-six point smashings, but with the way Kentucky has played this year...Well, let's just say these guys need some confidence in a bad way.

    * Larceny Inc. Kentucky has been very bad--so, so bad--at actually getting in passing lanes and pressuring people this year. Usually if a team wants to cut, they cut. If they want to make cross-court skip passes, those passes get through. Last night we disrupted things a little, especially Tyler Herro, who seemed to be on pace to break the school's steals record in the first few minutes. It was a major improvement for a team that has been shockingly lethargic on the defensive end all year.

    * Freebies. Kentucky was a solid 20-23 from the free throw line, continuing a pretty strong performance at the stripe on the season. This team can shoot free throws and if they can clean up a few other things, that will matter.

    * Lead by Example. An interesting thing I've started to notice: Tyler Herro has some leadership qualities. This team's upperclassmen don't seem to be that vocal, and that may be one of our problems. You won't see PJ getting other guys pumped up much, and Quade seems to be sort of in his own world much of the time. Nick Richards is obviously not somebody who's going to get guys fired up. And Reid Travis is old enough to be these guys' dad. But when the team huddles out there, the guy that's doing the talking a lot of times is Tyler Herro. He seems to have that "it" that all great basketball players have. I really like him.

    * Watch the Perimeter. As we all know, Kentucky has been almost historically bad at guarding the three. Last night we got a gift: Monmouth came in shooting a hilarious 25% from three, and we held them even worse than that: they were 2-16, missing so many shots I thought at one point the entire backboard on their end might break off from its stanchion. Yes, some of those were open--Cal's point about this team not anticipating seems to be right, as Kentucky will let guys get into their move and only then will we make a gesture toward defending. But some of those threes were tough, with a Kentucky guy placed right where he should be with his hand up, and in that way we saw some improvement last night.

    * J.R. Reid Hello. It was nice to see J.R. Reid on Monmouth's bench last night, a guy I remember well from my childhood nightmares. Reid was a freak of nature for North Carolina in the '80s, and incidentally one of the first guys I can remember who had designs shaved into the side of his head. By the '90s those designs were common, even for white kids in the hills of eastern Kentucky. My friend had four lightning bolts shaved in there. It was glorious.

    The Bad

    * Point Guard, You? Our point guard situation remains in flux after seven games. Immanuel Quickley is the sort of player who doesn't really do anything that well but he doesn't hurt you that much either. He's just okay. I think Ashton Hagans has actually shown more spark the last couple of games, but Hagans is more prone to make a catastrophic error. So it's still very much a question, and one reason Kentucky can't flex its muscle yet and look like a legit top 15 team is because we have two very raw point guards. I'm afraid this is an issue that will linger.

    * Come On, Make Some Noise. The Rupp crowd has been pretty mediocre all year. Last night Jerry Tipton tweeted a photo fifteen minutes before gametime and the place looked like it was assembling for the fourth night of an REO Speedwagon run. Usually you can turn the volume on the TV way up and hear people talking to each other. The only blast of noise is usually Cal relentlessly screaming from the sideline, "PLAY HIM!" (I've often wondered if you had a drinking game where every time Cal screamed "PLAY HIM!" you drank, how long would it take before you passed out dead?) I think the fans, like the players, are still exceedingly bummed about the Duke thrashing. We might be battling with fan apathy all year long to be honest.

    * Slow Reid. Reid Travis does a lot of good things. I like the composure he plays with, I like the fact that whenever guys run into him they just fall down, and I like that he doesn't seem that bothered by anything. I'm convinced if somebody punched him in the face he'd just nod and hand the ball to the ref. But Travis isn't an energy guy necessarily, and there were times last night early when the ball was loose and he just didn't attack it. Both he and Washington need to play with a little more juice, with that scrambling, manic energy that you see Herro playing with sometimes, but Travis doesn't appear to be that kind of player.

    The Ugly

    * Nobody Makes Me Bleed My Own Blood. Those opening ten minutes were pretty gnarly. After Kentucky got out to a little spurt behind the Tyler Herro's threes, Herro got a cut and had to be benched. Then Quade hit a couple, and it seemed like it might be a rout of epic proportions. And then the Kentucky team we've seen showed up for the next five or six minutes, and in my living room we started to communicate to the television in groans and sighs. It thankfully passed and UK turned it on, but those minutes were another example of how Kentucky just will not put up a 40-minute game yet. They'll give you 25 most nights. Last night they gave us about 30. But they will not play smart and hard through the entirety of a game, and if they give us only 25 Saturday they may be beaten.

    * It's 7:18 A.M., Do You Know Where Your Jermarl Baker Is? The international man of mystery otherwise known as Jemarl Baker is still in basketball purgatory. Injury? Suspension? Dog house? We'll probably never know.

    * Monmouth of Madness. Monmouth was one of the worst teams we've seen roll into Rupp in the Calipari era. Looking at them two years ago, you see where UK was going by scheduling them: it looked like King Rice was building a solid mid-major. They were on their way to the NCAA Tournament. They had that crazy bench that made SportsCenter every night. Things looked to be bright and good. Well, the wheels have fallen off in a big way, and last night they brought a team into Rupp that Transy would've probably beaten. I'm not even sure Bubba Parham could've saved that bunch last night.

  • #2
    I'm convinced that we will never see Baker play for UK. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we saw an announcement about him transferring at the end of this semester. He has either done something horribly wrong or doesn't do the things Cal wants and he has been sent to the doghouse.

    Monmouth has turned into Carolina north with King Rice and JR Reid on the coaching sidelines. Reid was a freak when we first saw him at UNC. I had never seen many like him before.

    Monmouth is just the typical mid major. They have a couple of very good seasons, those players move on and its back to re-building. How quickly they re-build will determine King Rice's fate at Monmouth. Also shows what an unbelievable job Mark Few has done at Gonzaga to keep that program at a high level for as long as he has.
    Kentucky fan since 1971.

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    • #3
      Thanks again, Will. I didn't get to watch the game. I get up at 3AM so anything after a 7:00 top I don't watch much of.

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      • #4
        Where should PJ be in the GBU?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by justford View Post
          Where should PJ be in the GBU?
          PJ has been a disappointment to me. Being a coaches son and watching him in HS I woulda bet the farm he would be a complete stud. His mean mugging and flexing GOT ON MY EVER LOVIN NERVES last year. He has loads of talent but his drive, IMO, just isn't there. It's a shame too because he's a very likeable guy.
          No man is a failure who has friends

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          • #6
            Hard to judge PJ in that game. Was in foul trouble from the start, and at the end they didn't need him.

            He's clearly the sort of player who's going to bring it sometimes, but only sometimes. Drifts way too much. I would imagine that will be something we see all year.

            Best thing you hope for is we get Good PJ in some of our bigger games, because Good PJ is a legit NBA first-rounder who can put the team on his back. Problem is Bad PJ is the sort of guy who goes out and gets two baskets and a rebound.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post
              Hard to judge PJ in that game. Was in foul trouble from the start, and at the end they didn't need him.

              He's clearly the sort of player who's going to bring it sometimes, but only sometimes. Drifts way too much. I would imagine that will be something we see all year.

              Best thing you hope for is we get Good PJ in some of our bigger games, because Good PJ is a legit NBA first-rounder who can put the team on his back. Problem is Bad PJ is the sort of guy who goes out and gets two baskets and a rebound.
              Maybe in College, and I'm saying PJ could be a possible first rounder, but he won't be a NBA franchise player.

              John 3:3

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              The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Monmouth Edition

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