Chalk it up to Jared Carter's bum shoulder, Sheray Thomas' bum decision-making or the fates, but fans are excited to hear from coach Tubby Smith that freshman forward Perry "Pogo" Stevenson, all 200 pounds of him, will assume the starting power forward slot alongside junior Randolph Morris for Wednesday's season opener at Rupp Arena.
Stevenson showed a lot of promise in the preseason, dominating South Carolina-Upstate in the second exhibition game with 11 points, 9 boards and 5 (at least) blocks in limited time.
Realistically, Stevenson, while probably effective in helping Morris avoid fouls from the weakside, is some time away from dominating the UNCs and Louisvilles of the world, but with Morris' penchant for fouls on defense and no depth at the center spot, Tubby thought it prudent to keep Lukasz Obrzut in reserve, just in case. Thomas returns to action on Friday against Mississippi Valley State.
Truth be told, Stevenson offers the Cats something they haven't had in a while -- a true leaping athlete in the frontcourt. In Tubby's ball-line defensive scheme, a shot blocker from the weakside can be a huge bonus, and should Stevenson prove capable of providing 6-10 points on dunks, putbacks and layups, he may find a home in hte starting lineup. Then again, Thomas was supposed to start the preseason alongside Morris, so ...