The Kentucky Wildcats picked up their first win of the 2008-09 season today against the Delaware State Hornets. Good effort by an undermanned but hard-fighting Delaware State team. The Hornets showed a lot of heart and demonstrated the kind of effort against overwhelming odds that will hopefully make their fans proud.
For the Wildcats, it was a workmanlike performance that looked very sound overall. Despite having a large physical and talent advantage, the 'Cats did not showboat and did not engage in the kind of casual play that teams who are handily beating an opponent so often do, which I really appreciate. We saw some very decent fundamental basketball today and a very solid defensive effort. On the negative side, Patrick Patterson's effort was uncharacteristically poor in almost every respect, and Perry Stevenson did very little to recommend his play. On the positive side, Darius Miller was extremely impressive, DeAndre Liggins less so but still impressive. Jodie Meeks had a very good game in every respect, although I would like to see him get more rebounds.
- The officiating was completely inconsistent -- touch fouls in the first half and a normal game in the second.
- Kentucky, for having a huge size advantage, was unimpressive on the glass, actually losing the rebounding battle 30-31, by a team that played a lot of zone. Not good.
- Turnovers were significantly reduced, but this team played a lot of zone and very little pressure. Still, 12 turnovers is about as good as this team is capable of, and they clearly have been working on reducing them. That work had a positive result.
- Michael Porter played a good game. If he can every turn in a performance like that against high competition, that would be something. But for now, I remain a Porter skeptic especially at the point, but his shooting form was very good today.
- Darius Miller is going to be a great player at Kentucky. He will be uneven this year, but he sure was good today. 13 points, 0 turnovers, 4 assists. He only had 3 rebounds, though, and that is not in line with my expectations.
- Patrick Patterson gets a pass for this game. He so rarely stinks up the place that when he does, I just look the other way.
- Perry Stevenson was non-existent. He had one block and 4 rebounds and missed a couple of point-blank shots. He never seemed to have his head in this game.
- Ramon Harris turned in his typical solid, workmanlike performance. His stat line will not show the number of deflections and turnovers that he forced or had a hand in.
- DeAndre Liggins only had 2 assists, but he did other things that were helpful. He is developing into a nice player, and by SEC time, should be at or near the starting lineup.
- Harrellson was useful today, although not particularly impressive. He showed some pretty quick feet for a guy his size. He needs a bit more confidence, though.
- What happened to A.J. Stewart? First sub off the bench, and then never saw another minute. Probably the 2 turnovers in 3 minutes that did him in.
- Only 5 blocks against the Hornets. That isn't impressive against a team who's biggest player is 6'7".
The good news -- we won the game by a convincing enough margin that the Big Blue Nation can actually sigh in relief. The bad news is that we still have issues, particularly on offense, but they look rather more manageable now than they did just a few days ago. Gillispie had the team well prepared for this game, and addressed some of the big concerns that Wildcat fans had. There is much left to do, but this game represents a positive step in a game where a positive step was difficult to achieve.