If you watched the Cats dismantle, disembowel, and disassociate Morehouse College last night, a recurring theme throughout the night for me was, "what are they going to do next?". The high-flying, in your face play of the Wildcats last night was not only something to behold, it was downright freakish. So is this what we should expect from the Wildcats for the next 6 months? Maybe, maybe not.
There were so many great things happening last night, it took either the watchful eye of a coach tracking their every movement, or the everyday run-of-the-mill Wildcat fan with a 60" HD plasma and a DVR and too much time on their hands to pick apart that Cats play. Not that there was anything wrong with it, mind you, when you win by 86 points, the coach plays every man on his bench, and no one played over 25 minutes, you have to say it was simply an amazing night for all involved. After all, the trainer scored 10 points and had half a dozen boards, I think. But there were some chinks in the armor, and hey are definitely worth discussing. After all, we are the Big Blue Nation, and if we cannot obsess over minuscule things in an exhibition game, then why are we here?
If you look closely at the stats, you will not find those chinks. If you look at the score you will not find them, so let's go to the tape. The areas where we will need to address shortcomings are there, it simply takes an unemotional look back at what happened.
1) Fouls. Marquis Teague committed way too many silly fouls last night in an effort to play shutdown D on an inferior guard. While I applaud the effort, and loved the hustle, playing that way against the likes of UNC, Kansas, Vandy, and Florida, they will cause our very talented point guard to be sitting on the bench with 2 fouls, 6 minutes into the first half, and watching Doron Lamb get his playing time. Point guard is our thinnest position with this team. Yes, we have 15 ball-handlers on the floor, and yes a lot of our 2 guards can fill the bill just fine, but Teague is a play-maker. And a play-maker with a deadly shot, when he wants to take it. He needs to be on the floor to draw out the defenses away from those multi-talented big men we have. All Teague has to do is contain his man, let the 2-3-4 players fill the lanes and reap the benefits. Don't stop hustling, but don't overdo it just to keep the show going.
2) Don't make too many passes. Against a team like Morehouse, 6 passes is fun to watch, looks great on highlight reels, and demoralizes the opponent when they know they cannot stop everyone. However, sometimes the best thing to do is also the simplest thing to do. Just drive the lane and slam the ball down. If you are not sure how this is done, ask Terrence Jones. He seems to have it down cold.
3) Just because one can do a thing, does not mean that one must do a thing. Kyle Wiltjer may be the best pure shooter we have had at UK since Jodie Meeks left. But he is all over the court. He needs to make up his mind if he is a 1-2-3-4 or 5. And then he needs to let the rest of the team know. Admittedly, again, this was not a Div I foe coming into Rupp loaded for bear. But the rest of the team needs to know what you are doing Kyle, even if they only need to get out of your way. Simply put, you don't have to do it all. Even though it's great that you can.
4) Rebounding is for everyone. Davis and Wiltjer and Jones do not have to do it all. The 1-2-3 need to get in there and mix it up a little bit as well. It keeps the opponents honest.
While I know that these things are going to be considered nitpicking by some, they are going to be necessary for the Cats to stand when all the others have fallen in early April. This team has the hunger, the desire, the will, and the chemistry to do some really truly amazing things, with that 8th banner being just one of them. Attention to detail will get them over the top. If they have half as much fun playing as it is going to be to watch, there is no end to what stories both players and fans will have after this year.