This is the official Open Game Thread for Louisville at Kentucky. For those of you who can't get the game on TV, here are some links:
This is the first real test for the new and improved version of the Kentucky Wildcats, featuring a point guard/forward who can pass, rebound and dribble, an additional scoring threat from the perimeter, and an improved defense and player rotation. This team has been observed in the wild only once, a complete domination of an inferior team. That gives us precious little to go on, but I think the biggest conclusion we can draw is that the current team will be vastly superior to the one that lost to San Diego and Houston.
This is Patrick Patterson's first taste of Hate Week, and knowing what I do about the big guy, he has already figured out most of what to expect. Patterson, unlike some of our seniors, is extremely mature and level-headed for his age. That poise will be tested today against the best team the Wildcats have faced since the embarrassing loss to Indiana in Bloomington.
Louisville comes into this game limping a bit. The Cardinals have failed to live up to the lofty expectations the pre-season pundits heaped upon them. In fact, they have struggled to the point that many on the national scene see this game as a must-win for Louisville's post-hopes. That is simply nonsense, and the Cardinals themselves proved that very thing last year.
On the other hand, it is also nonsense that Kentucky needs this win to get into the NCAA tournament, something almost nobody expects to happen at this point. Don't you believe it. There are many paths to the NCAA tournament, and all it takes is 3 or four wins at the end of the year for the Cats to go dancing. But that determination is very far into the future, and there is a lot of basketball to be played between now and then.
This game isn't about the future, it is about Traitor Rick's "precious present." This game is all about ... this game, the game we all want to have in the W column, both to frustrate our foes and entitle us to bragging rights for the rest of the year. This, in fact, could be a double-bragging rights game, entitling the Big Blue Nation to enjoy victories in both football and basketball over more highly-touted Cardinal teams.
Keys to the game:
- Ballhandling -- Pitinos teams are famous for converting defense to offense
- Rebounding -- We are outmatched on the glass sizewise, so we must negate that by hustle
- 3-point shooting -- the great equalizer has to go our way
- Free throw shooting -- this game could come down to the charity stripe
- Foul trouble -- we need to get them into it, and stay out of it ourselves
Time to get psyched. I will not be liveblogging this game -- it's far too intense for me to do that. I'll be in and out from time to time, so be sure to post comments if you want.