As we move inexorably toward Friday night's clash with the Louisville Cardinals in the
Chicken Ranch Yum! Center (that exclamation point is just awkward), along the way we face the Coppin St. Eagles from the MEAC conference. The Eagles come in to Rupp Arena tonight 4-5 overall, having won every home game and lost every road game. Comparative season particulars are as follows, courtesy of Statsheet.com:
|W-L Splits:||Kentucky||Coppin St.|
Notably, they gave the Connecticut Huskies, who blitzkrieged the Wildcats in Maui, a pretty good game, but were blown out by the Oklahoma Sooners, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Towson Tigers. They come into Rupp Arena off an 80-56 drubbing by the aforementioned Badgers last Thursday. The Eagles are currently #282 in the RPI (UK is #5) and #306 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings (UK is #6).
Coppin St. is like the Kentucky Wildcats in that they have only four returning players from last year's team. Follow me after the jump as we continue our look at the Coppin St. Eagles. (Interesting factoid: Kentucky is playing it's second team in a row with the Eagle mascot).
Losses from last year:
|Eddie Hayden||6-6||240||Junior||Minor reserve|
|George Jackson||5-11||162||Freshman||Minor reserve|
|Kareem Brown||6-2||190||Junior||Starter/reserve, Leading scorer|
|Quinston Reggins||6-1||172||Junior||Major reserve|
|Sam Coleman||6-10||212||Junior||Major reserve, leading rebounder
Coppin St. played no less than 10 players 15+ minutes last year, so even though the leading scorer Kareem Brown is gone, the points were very much spread around with Brown leading the team at just under 11 ppg.
New faces are as follows:
|Jordan Lee||6-4||?||Sophomore||Walk on?|
Coppin St. Eagles Basketball Roster With Comments
|Akeem Ellis||23||F||Starter, leading rebounder||6-6||junior|
|Tony Gallo||12||G||Starter, 2nd leading scorer, leading 3-pt shooter||5-11||junior|
|Vince Goldsberry||11||G||Major reserve, assist leader||165||6-0||senior|
|Michael Harper||5||G||Starter, leading scorer, good 3-pt shooter, steals leader
|Collin Johnson||24||G||Minor reserve||6-4||freshman|
|Ceslovas Kucinskas||50||C||Major reserve||245||6-8||senior|
|Michael Murray||21||F||Major reserve||6-5||freshman|
|Osman Olol||33||G||Minor reserve||6-9||junior|
|Mike Simpson||15||G||Minor reserve||6-6||freshman|
|Antonio Williams||32||F||Starter, leading offensive rebounder||6-6||junior|
Not too much to say here. Kentucky easily wins the Four Factors comparison, as you would expect, although I do note that Coppin State is a pretty good ballhandling team.
Overall Game Analysis
Coppin St. was picked tied for last with Florida A&M pre-season in the MEAC, but they played the Morgan St. Bears, the pre-season pick to win the MEAC, very close on the road. In addition, the Eagles gave the Connecticut Huskies a tough game up in Hartford, and Kemba Walker & Co. didn't put the pesky Eagles away until under 2 minutes were left in the game.
Kentucky was dominant from the 3-point arc versus the Winthrop Eagles, putting them away with over 7 minutes to go in the basketball game. Winthrop is statistically a better team than Coppin St., so it is fairly likely that unless the Wildcats have a Christmas hangover, they will be much too tough for the Eagles tonight.
But every time I get ready to chock this game up to an easy win, I think about the UConn and Morgan St. games. Morgan St. isn't that good, but UConn is plenty good, and the Eagles put a mild scare into them at home.
Coppin St. does not have the size to dominate Kentucky on the glass, but they do have some very dangerous 3-point shooters, and it will be important for Kentucky to show that they can guard that shot, especially with the #22 Louisville Cardinals, who blasted the aforementioned Morgan St. Bears 104-74 on the strength of 17-23 3-point shooting, coming up next. If you think Kentucky's win versus Winthrop was impressive, a look at that Louisville game ought to give you pause -- the Cardinals put away Morgan State with over 13 minutes left in the game.
Nothing matters less in college basketball than the results of a previous game, which is a very good thing for Kentucky -- one-upping the Cardinals effort last night would be mighty tough to do against an average high school team, much less the Coppin St. Eagles. But the Wildcats don't need a blowout, just a victory where they defend well, rebound well, and make open shots. In fact, I would really like to see another good performance from inside the arc, where Kentucky has occasionally been found wanting this year.
In the final analysis, Kentucky should win easily, but it's important for Kentucky to perform well tonight, if not spectacularly. Good fundamental basketball is all I ask, and if the 'Cats can do that, their talent and skill should take care of the rest.