UK 67, Notre Dame 77: Typical Kentucky

Typical Turnovers

Two-minutes and three seconds remaining in UK's 77-67 loss to Notre Dame; Kentucky down five points after rallying from 17 down behind Jodie Meeks' hot hand.  Michael Porter passes to the wing to an "unpressured" Perry Stevenson. 

Turnover.  Game over.  Typical of this year's most disappointing of UK seasons. 

In a game that was close through the first 10 minutes, over the last 10 minutes of the first half, UK's barrage of turnovers helped create some breathing room for the hot shooting Irish.  Enough room in fact to ensure a victory over the defense-less 'Cats.

Nine-minutes of lame defense, and turnovers, cost the 'Cats a trip to New York.

Typical of this year's most disappointing of UK seasons.

Typical Defense

Speaking of the "hot shooting Irish:"  Going into the game UK had to know that Notre Dame relies on the three-point shot, yet "wide-open" would be an understatement of mammoth proportions in describing the Irish's looks at the basket.  Perimeter defense was requisite if UK was to have any chance at victory, but, as has been the rule over the last six to eight weeks, Kentucky's inability to man-up on the shooter cost them yet another ballgame. 

Typical of this year's most disappointing of UK seasons. 

A lack of competent transition defense allowed Notre Dame to take full advantage of UK's 10 turnovers.  The stat line reads as follows: Notre Dame - 17 points off 10 UK turnovers, UK - two-points off six Irish turnovers.

Typical of this year's most disappointing of UK seasons.

Typical Perry Stevenson

Perry Stevenson -- What do I say and still be able to write for a Sea of Blue?

I've never encountered a more enigmatic player who "performed" for UK.  One thinks he's turned the corner onto "Competent Street," and then he produces possibly one of the most listless efforts I've ever witnessed in a big game, by a player wearing blue and white.

It's been that way all year: Stevenson will have a few decent games, then disappear for two weeks.  He'll even have the occasional great game, but he's never been able to sustain his level of play. 

Wednesday night we saw errant nineteen-foot jumper after errant nineteen-foot jumper, followed by careless turnover after careless turnover.  Many thought it colorful when Stevenson made light of his "butter-fingers" after the Creighton game, when he said he had too much butter with his pre-game meal.  Well, I don't think it's funny ... well, let's just leave it at that.

His cavalier attitude, and lack of focus (hence the turnovers) toward his game is unfair to his teammates, and I'm sure maddening for his coach and UK fans.

I'm not meaning to insinusate that Stevenson is the primary reason UK lost to Notre Dame, he's not, but this game is the "straw that broke the camels neck," for me anyway.

Let me be clear:  It brings me no joy to be so harsh with Stevenson.  He is by all accounts, a jovial, courteous young man, but this isn't about his off-court attitude ... it's about being a starter for the University of Kentucky basketball team.

Typical Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks

The Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Story wrote a couple of weeks ago that Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks deserve better than this.  I would have to agree.  UK's comeback versus Notre Dame wasn't so much the team coming back from the 17 point deficit, as it was Jodie Meeks deciding to take and make shots, regardless of how close his defender was (or how far away he was from the basket).  He and Patterson received very little assistance from their teammates in their respective second half efforts.  If they had, the game may have ended with a victorious Big Blue, instead of a game that was ...

Typical of this year's most disappointing of UK seasons.

In UK's Defense

Taking nothing away from a very good Notre Dame team, but UK having only one day off between games was simply not fair to the 'Cats, especially when Notre Dame had not played in eight days.

Collegiate athletics is supposed to be about fair competition.  This game did not qualify.

But, I must say that I was very impressed with Notre Dame's Luke Harangody.  He was defended about as well as anyone could defend, yet he still managed to put up 30 points. 

I have to say that Harangody reminds me of Chuck Hayes with a more refined offensive skill set: He works extremely hard on the court, and he plays as smartly as any player I've ever seen.  He uses his body very well, and even UK color man Mike Pratt commented upon his intelligent use of angles.  He's just a smart, smart player who gets the most out of his talent. 

Kudos to the future multi-millionaire -- I'll be rooting for the Irish to win the NIT. 

Billy Gillispie

With the end of the season upon us, Billy Gillispie's future will most surely be determined over the next few days (word is, Friday is the day of reckoning) . 

I still feel as I have since the talk of Gillispie's possible dismissal arose after the SEC Tournament: He doesn't deserve to be let go after only two seasons.  His unfortunate behavioral issues, in my opinion, do not warrant firing the man. 

Is there room for him to improve upon his public persona?  Sure there is.  But, his alleged alienation of many of the athletic department staff is a non-issue as far as I am concerned.  If he's hard to work with, well, deal with it.  There are many, many folks who are hard to work with.  He is not unique in that respect, and his brusque style should not be considered a "fire-able" offense.

Can one come up with legitimate questions in regards to some of his in-game decisions?  Certainly.  Many have been baffled at some of his substitution patterns, and game-plan decisions.  But I remain steadfast in my belief that he's a good coach, who could grow into a great coach, if given time, and the proper personnel.

But of course, I am not the decision-maker in this melodrama.  That cross to bear lies heavily on Lee Todd and Mitch Barnhart's shoulders.  And if the decision is made to terminate Gillispie, it is incumbent upon them to have a home run hitter in the lineup, ready to step to the plate (and in possession of serious powers of persuasion).  An extended search for a new head coach will not sit well with the fan base, and the hiring of a less than stellar leader will be unacceptable.

So let the future-talk, begin ...

Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!

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