Kentucky Basketball: Late Night Musings After a Big Road Win

I have a weird habit of being a night-owl on weekends -- well, at least on Fridays and Saturdays. During the week, I'm not so much. I have no idea why, so don't ask.

This is pretty much stream-of-consciousness stuff, and likely not all that interesting, but I feel like writing something, and the Internet, Al Gore bless it, gives me the freedom, for good or ill, to do it. Even well after midnight when nobody cares.

I really loved what Kentucky did today. Tennessee played great. They didn't play perfect, but they executed their game plan as well as can be expected of a team in their situation, and they gave UK a major challenge that I wasn't sure the 'Cats were up to. I want to mention, purely for reasons of self-importance, that I pointed out that this game would be hard and that an upset was more than possible. I also pointed out that Jarnell Stokes could make an impact. I admit, I didn;t expect him to come in and score nine points and get four rebounds, but still.

Another thing -- I didn't realize how truly big that kid is. He reminds me of Jarred Sullinger, and that's a scary thought. He doesn't quite have the kind of game Sully has, but that guy is a major hoss, and Tennessee should ride him like Secretariat. He can, and just might be, the foundation of a major contender there if Martin can just be competent in his recruiting. Here's another thing, just in case you're wondering -- he's not eligible for the NBA draft in 2012.

I really think that UK has done a great job winning both at Auburn and at Tennessee this week. Yes, I know Auburn isn't great, but let me tell you they played good basketball in that game, and by my lights, Calipari did no better job of coaching his team than his former player and assistant, Tony Barbee, did coaching his.

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Speaking of coaching, it is my considered opinion that Calipari is not getting Marquis Teague to play well. Teague made some good plays today, and as someone rightly pointed out in the comments, at least a couple of Teague's turnovers were due to bad calls (one for sure) by the officials.

But even with that said, Teague really made a lot of mistakes, and he really didn't look that much like a point guard to me. He is too focused on scoring, and he isn't that good at it. Yes, he can get to the rim when he wants, and that's really important in the NBA where a charge call requires that you build a 25-story building over the spot, and the offensive player to bring a wrecking ball and dynamite before it's called. But in college, it's a real problem, and either the officials are getting more and more blind, or Teague is leading the league in charges. He needs to be leading the league in assists and fast-break layups.

But I don't blame Teague, I blame Calipari. He has to figure out how to get that young man's attention, and what I see is a player who doesn't really pay attention to what his coach is telling him, and a coach that lets him get away with it. I don't like that. It may work for Cal, and my perception is probably wrong, but guess what -- that's how it looks to me.

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Terrence Jones is coming back around, but I can't quite figure out why he left in the first place. Oh, I get the injury -- that finger is a problem, and even though it isn't bothering him as bad now, I saw a couple of winces and hand grabs today. It's true, though, that we tend to live our lives vicariously through the players, and I just know if I had Jones' size and skill, confidence would never be my problem. But then again, I might say the same thing about staying sane and enjoying my money instead of going bonkers and killing my ex-wife like O.J. Simpson. So there you go.

Darius Miller is just a complementary player. As I said to Larry Glover on his show on Friday, you just can't change a player's nature, and Miller's nature is that of a complementary player -- he just isn't a star, and he isn't interested in being anything other than what he is. I am as guilty as the next guy of trying to will him into a 15-8 stud, but that just isn't Darius. I am finally reaching the seventh stage -- acceptance and hope -- regarding Miller. He does some really good things, just not star things.

Anthony Davis, on the other hand, is a star. He is a star in ways that defy reason, and logic. Some of the balls he got to today just ... they just look like violations of physical laws, and the biomechanics of human anatomy. I saw him snag a ball impossibly high above the rim, and even though I didn't have time let my jaw fully hit the ground like a cartoon character, I was awed nonetheless. He gets balls that cannot possibly be gotten by human beings. It's otherworldly, utterly indescribable to someone who isn't an obsessive college basketball fan. He looks like some kind of half-alien, half-human hybrid from worlds where Mister Fantastic is commonplace and uni-brows the dominant facial characteristic.

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Finally, I have been accused more than once of having a man-crush on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. You know, I should -- he represents all the things I hope for in a college basketball player -- but I truly don't. I have come to expect a certain level of excellence from him, and if anything, I hold him to a higher standard than his peers, even to the upperclassmen. Why? Because when a guy constantly sets a higher standard, we all come to demand it every game.

I love all these guys in a different way, like a father loves his children differently. It isn't that you favor one over the other, you just have different expectations of each one, and they hit different parts of your heart. I compare it to a flavor you really enjoy -- but what person enjoys only one flavor? We love many different ones, but in different ways, and for different reasons.

Well, that's it. If you made it this far, you are truly dedicated, and give yourself the A Sea of Blue Purple Heart for putting up with the editor's half-mad musings in the middle of the night. I hope the pain was not too great.

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