[Moderated by Matt Jones]
As my first post here at KSR college, I thought it would be good to share my top ten thoughts about each game as a piece I’m going to call “Ben’s Ten.” Like Ron Burgundy had his news camera to share his views, I have a computer and need to get things off my chest. Yes, it may be a tad cliché and a little dry, but you know what, who cares. I’m going to tell it like it is whether you like it or not. So without further adieu, here’s my top ten thoughts about the Cats 75-65 win over the Vols.
1. Archie, Archie, Archie… I know many like to question why you don’t pass very often, but in my belief, that isn’t the problem. Listen to any basketball analyst around the country and they’ll tell you that one of the most important things is that when you drive the basketball, drive it with a purpose. That is, he needs to start knowing before he finishes drives whether he wants to finish, or kick it out. Only once he does this can he start taking it strong to the tin instead of throwing up wild dipsy-doo layups that almost always end badly.
2. Somehow, someway, Nerlens Noel, in my opinion, may be the most underrated player in the nation. How, you may ask, as he was kinda just the number 1 rated prospect coming out of high school. Well, this is how. He started the season off slowly on the offensive end, and coupling this with UK’s slow start led pundits and ignorant fans alike to label him as a potential bust. But lately, the man has just been putting on a show. Last night’s stat line of 12 points, 9 rebounds (seemed like more), 6 blocks, 4 steals, and 2 assists, is just another example of the yeoman’s work that Noel has been doing. If he keeps this up, the “experts” almost have to give him looks for various post season awards.
3. I’m not a big believer of the ESPN, anti-UK bias, but the headline that the four-letter network gave after the win rubbed me the wrong way. The headline read “Cats Avoid Back-to-Back SEC Losses,” as if had UK lost they would have barely made the CBI or something. Maybe I’m overreacting to a such a small deal, but man, why couldn’t they say something like “Noel and Wiltjer Shine in UK Win,” or “Skylar McBee’s Mustache Is Still Gross.” Sigh.
4. Speaking of Skylar McBee, he was pretty non-existent in what has to have been his 200th career (and final) game in Rupp. I mean seriously, what is it with Tennessee players seeming like they were in college forever. Wayne Chism, Major Wingate, JP Prince, Bobby Maze, I mean it’s almost like clockwork for the puke orange (pun marginally intended). Can you remember when McBee did this:
5. Although last nights win may not have looked pretty to our eyes, it was necessary for our NCAA tournament aspirations. Just by looking at their current profile, if the name Kentucky wasn’t across their chests I’m not sure if they’d even be considered for the field. Their RPI is 64, with an 0-4 record vs. the top 50, and a 1-1 record vs. the top 100 (lone win was Maryland, who is 85th). UK’s strength of schedule is a little better at 45, but with how weak the SEC is that number is sure to drop. At this point, in order to feel safe about a bid, the Cats probably need to go 2-2 against Ole Miss, Mizzou, and the Gators. I still think they’ll get it done.
6. You know who had himself a fine game last night? Mr. Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer had 17 points on 6-10 shooting, to go along with his 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. This bodes the question, is Kyle here to stay, or is this another example of fools gold? History tends to go with the latter when speaking of Wiltjer, unfortunately. This season, Wiltjer has only once posted back-to-back double figure scoring games in which one of the teams was in a power conference. How did he follow that one streak he had? By shooting 1-7 from the field over the next two games in 33 minutes of lackluster action. At this point, I think it’s becoming more evident that this team plays much better when Kyle performs. The team is 7-1 in games where Kyle goes for double figures, with the lone loss being a gritty performance against the number 1 team in the country who shall remain nameless. Hopefully, though, he is here to stay.
Good morning to you as well, Mr. Wiltjer.
7. Another positive note from last night’s performance was the continual growth of point man Ryan Harrow. Harrow struggled a bit from the field, but did his job as a floor general and dished out 4 assists to go along with no turnovers. At this point in the season Harrows assist to turnover ratio is 2.6 to 1, and for those you keeping track at home (and I know some of you are), that mark is better than John Wall, Brandon Knight, and Marquis Teague. Just sayin’.
8. Last night, due to circumstances (cough cough Rush Week cough cough), I was forced into watching the game on mute. Oh the anxiety I had thinking about what fabulous comments Jimmy Dykes was making every time Jarnell Stokes was shown. In order to compensate for missing out on the broadcast of a lifetime, I had to imagine what Dykes was saying. Here are some examples:
“Woah, that’s new! He learned to stretch! That’s something I’ll tell you. At this time last year he didn’t know how to that’s for sure. Watch him touch his toes, magnificent, isn’t it?”
“Did his feet get bigger? I swear last year he was only size 18, but unless my eyes are tiring those definitely look like 22’s, maybe 23.”
Well, that’s actually all I got. Can only imagine what I missed.
9. Going into the Texas A&M game, UK ranked #4 in the country in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. After the last two games, UK now ranks 24th. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a permanent drop, because Elston Turner was scoring 40 that day no matter what team he played against, but it is a cause for immediate concern. The team lacks an every possession perimeter defender that they’ve had the last few seasons, and also goes into defensive lulls where the team just expects Noel to block or steal everything. If the Cats are going to try and put together another late season run a la 2011, defense is something they are going to have to pride themselves on because I’m not sure there are enough go-to scorers to get it done on the offensive end.
10. And, just to remind you http://espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=330150084
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