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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Michigan St. Edition

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  • The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Michigan St. Edition

    The Good

    * The Exorcism. So today we wake up with a smile on our faces, our memories of the relentless beatdown we suffered at the hands of Duke last year thankfully erased. Yes, we're rough around the edges. Yes, we have kids who don't know what they're doing. Yes, Michigan St. looked drunk some of the time in that game. But the Cats pulled out a W that will resonate all the way to March. It feels good, friends.

    * Tyrese the Creator. Tyrese Maxey. Wow. Not only one of the best debut games I've seen a Kentucky player have, but one of the best big-stage games I've seen any freshman have during the Cal era. I love how Maxey plays the game downhill; he ain't got time for stutter steps and jabs and step-backs. He rushes the ball at the goal and if you're in his way, God help you. And then if you give him some berth he'll just dagger your eyeball from 26 feet. And he does it all with an electric, MKG-style smile on his face. Maxey put everybody on notice last night and I can't wait to see what's next.

    * D-Fense. Kentucky's defense jumped out early in that game, and I think a case can be made that it might have been one of the best opening night defensive performances of the Cal era minus 2015. This team has the potential to be a scary good defensive team. Even guys like Kahlil Whitney, who didn't factor into the box score that much, look terrifying on defense. I think that will be what we hang our hats on--and with our frontcourt it may have to be.

    * Boardmen of the World. After one repugnant game and one so-so game on the glass in the exhibitions, Kentucky, er, rebounded last night and tied Michigan St. on the board at 30 rebounds apiece. That was big, and I thought the work of Nate Sestina and (especially) Maxey at the end of the game were huge. Maxey had about four brutal rebounds that were huge in us winning that game.

    * A Sestina is a Poem. I liked the way Nate Sestina played. He isn't afraid to play physically, he'll get in there and mix it up, and he plays the game in a very cool, in-control way. The only thing about him is that I worry he may be too controlled at times; for a long stretch in that game he wasn't registering at all in the box score. With our lack of frontcourt options there may be times when he needs to press it a little.

    The Bad

    * Frontcourt Woes. Wildcatnation, let's be honest with ourselves: we answered no questions about our frontcourt last night. In fact you could make a case that we have more questions now than we did at this time yesterday. Yes, E.J. Montgomery got hurt early in that game, so I'll give him a pass. Nick Richards was clearly not 100%. But even with that there were times when the frontcourt players were a step behind, robotically trailing plays that they should make, or just not involved in the game at all. It was at times hard to watch and thankfully Sestina was willing to get in there and at least put up some resistance.

    * Shot Nervous. Ashton Hagans did that thing in the second half last night where he couldn't make lay-ups. It's maddening and I don't know what to attribute it to, but it was the same phenomenon that reared its head so many times last year. He has to get better at putting that ball in when he gets down there. Love his D but he may be the poorest lay-up maker Cal's had at the point this side of Ryan Harrow.

    * Out of Options. You worry about Kentucky's options offensively, what with Kahlil Whitney looking nervous, Immanuel Quickley looking easy to guard at times, and Ashton Hagans unable to stick in a two-footer. What's going to happen when Tyrese Maxey can't put on the cape? This team needs more punch on the offensive end, and you would hope that as things go forward Cal can find that guy (or two) who can put the ball in the basket. If not, we're going to have to win games in dogfights down in the 60s. Big margin for error playing that way.

    The Ugly

    * Hide Your Eyes. That wasn't a good night at the Garden if you're a basketball purist. That's four teams with a lot of questions, a lot of youth, and a lot of parts the coaches are trying to put into place. The Duke/Kansas game was the equivalent of a horror movie for most of the night, and while our game was a notch better, it wasn't what you would call a masterpiece. A lot of room for growth for all those teams.

    * Oh What Might Have Been. I'm sure I'm not alone, but every time the James Wiseman and Kerry Blackshear Jr. highlights came up last night I winced. How good would this team be with either of those guys? But whining about that is like whining about the weather or the cowlick in your hair that just won't stay down no matter what: it's useless. We are what we are, and it'll be up to Cal to figure out how to get these big players to play high-level basketball. There is definitely a lot of time left in the season to get them there.

  • #2
    T for Texas, T for Tyrese Maxey.

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    • #3
      I missed the GBU updates. Glad it's basketball season again.
      When he was a kid Lord, he never imagined all the ways that the city could bring a country boy down.

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      • #4
        Add Keion Brooks shot selection to your bad and then add Cade Cunningham being lame to your ugly, Will.

        OtherwiSe, spot on, per usual.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KCKUKFan View Post
          Add Keion Brooks shot selection to your bad and then add Cade Cunningham being lame to your ugly, Will.

          OtherwiSe, spot on, per usual.
          I forgot the late Keion Brooks three that came closer to going in on my backyard goal than it did in the Garden. Holy crap, son, holster the gun a tad.

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          • #6
            Maxey scored from both sides of the basket on the drive left right and all of the above.All i can think right now is "this kid" is on our team and he plays for us, what a wonderful thing.....
            I can spell, blame it on my not so smart smart phone, makes up it's own words as it goes.....

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            • #7
              No offense to Quickly but he is what he is, a solid contributor off the bench, will never be a star...
              I can spell, blame it on my not so smart smart phone, makes up it's own words as it goes.....

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              • #8
                Originally posted by J.Jennings View Post
                No offense to Quickly but he is what he is, a solid contributor off the bench, will never be a star...
                Quickley is going to break some kind of record this year for being fouled on threes. Had two last night and I bet it's almost an every-game thing.

                He shoots the ball drifting toward the basket. You rarely ever see that. But it's going to get him to the line quite a bit, especially if he can knock down the open shots he has because guys will have to rush out there on him, and they won't be prepared for the way he drifts toward them.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                  Quickley is going to break some kind of record this year for being fouled on threes. Had two last night and I bet it's almost an every-game thing.

                  He shoots the ball drifting toward the basket. You rarely ever see that. But it's going to get him to the line quite a bit, especially if he can knock down the open shots he has because guys will have to rush out there on him, and they won't be prepared for the way he drifts toward them.
                  I like him but Cal either has to go 3 guards or sit him on the bench, no way you keep Maxey out of the lineup now...

                  Good problem to have regardless..
                  I can spell, blame it on my not so smart smart phone, makes up it's own words as it goes.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nick Richards didn't have a great game but didn't play all that bad either, i think we are okay with what we got this year, we can survive...
                    I can spell, blame it on my not so smart smart phone, makes up it's own words as it goes.....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J.Jennings View Post
                      Nick Richards didn't have a great game but didn't play all that bad either, i think we are okay with what we got this year, we can survive...
                      I actually thought he was okay too but he didn't really do a ton, and he had a couple of abysmal plays. The last foul he had on Winston was totally unnecessary and I'm not sure why his instincts are so bad. He just doesn't look in it sometimes and seems to be sort of lagging behind mentally to the speed of the action.

                      The problem is when you get just-okay Richards and just-okay Montgomery. You can't have that even with your guards playing at a high level. You wanted one of them to come along to the point where he was going to be able to be a high-level contributor, but based on the three games we've seen so far it doesn't look like that happened in the off-season. Montgomery gets bumped off his line way too easily and just can't connect on those easy turnaround half-hooks. That's basketball 101 for big men.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                        I actually thought he was okay too but he didn't really do a ton, and he had a couple of abysmal plays. The last foul he had on Winston was totally unnecessary and I'm not sure why his instincts are so bad. He just doesn't look in it sometimes and seems to be sort of lagging behind mentally to the speed of the action.

                        The problem is when you get just-okay Richards and just-okay Montgomery. You can't have that even with your guards playing at a high level. You wanted one of them to come along to the point where he was going to be able to be a high-level contributor, but based on the three games we've seen so far it doesn't look like that happened in the off-season. Montgomery gets bumped off his line way too easily and just can't connect on those easy turnaround half-hooks. That's basketball 101 for big men.
                        Good thing for us is we have Sestina to take EJ's minutes, EJ would rather be a spot up stretch 4 instead of a low post college player..

                        I can spell, blame it on my not so smart smart phone, makes up it's own words as it goes.....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Will Lavender View Post

                          Quickley is going to break some kind of record this year for being fouled on threes. Had two last night and I bet it's almost an every-game thing.

                          He shoots the ball drifting toward the basket. You rarely ever see that. But it's going to get him to the line quite a bit, especially if he can knock down the open shots he has because guys will have to rush out there on him, and they won't be prepared for the way he drifts toward them.
                          He's the Ahmad Wagner - pass interference guy of this team.
                          When he was a kid Lord, he never imagined all the ways that the city could bring a country boy down.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by J.Jennings View Post
                            Nick Richards didn't have a great game but didn't play all that bad either, i think we are okay with what we got this year, we can survive...
                            I thought Richards played just fine...made a few shots, made free throws, got a few rebounds, and caused some issues with his length. I just don't know what to think about EJ, I don't know if it is a confidence issue or what. Cal got a gem in Sestina, he is loving the opportunity to play for Kentucky and is going to have some big games for us.

                            Hagans was great for the first 10-15 minutes, after that is was a little blah.

                            I haven't looked at the final stats, but it sure seemed like we were dang good from the charity stripe.

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                            • #15
                              And I agree Will, no use to worry about it, but just the thought of having either Wiseman or Blackshear on this squad brings a tear to my eye.

                              Comment

                               

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                              The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Michigan St. Edition

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