This is the official A Sea of Blue Open Game Thread for the Delaware State Hornets vs. the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena at noon today. I'm opening up this thread 45 minutes early again today so we can prepare.
The 'Cats are sitting ugly at 0-2, and most of us in the Big Blue Nation would say we need this win, in the words of a song, "... like the water, like breath, like rain." More importantly, the Wildcats need to prove that they are capable of coming together afer two devastating losses by dealing with a team UK should be able to beat with their bench players.
In days gone by, teams like Delaware State would come out and see "K-E-N-T-U-C-K Y" on the chests of the Wildcats, the 24,000 blue-clad fans hanging from the rafters and immediately lose 5 points or more in composure and confidence. I hereby pronounce those days dead and gone, mostly at the hands of Gardener-Webb, VMI and other smaller teams demonstrating that Rupp Arena is no longer a place where opponents come to die. Those days may return, but for now, they are, in the words of yet another song, "... gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday ..."
Be that as it may, this is a game Kentucky should win easily. There is very little good that can happen from beating a team like Delaware State, but an awful lot of bad is hanging out there. Kentucky can win this game and still take an additional step backwards by not putting away this team efficiently. It's frustrating for many of us to have to live through games that are nearly no-win situations unless we blow them out by 30+, but that's what we have here this afternoon.
But it isn't all gloomy, despite my somewhat pessimistic assessment above. This is an opportunity for the 'Cats to demonstrate what they can do in the half-court for practically the first time all year. This is the first game that is not likely to be played at a ridiculous pace for which this team is, at this point, ill prepared. This is the first game we have played in which Patrick Patterson is likely to get a bunch of touches, and even though I have bemoaned the fact that his athleticism is not quite back to par, the same cannot be said for his understanding of the game and his outstanding post passing. Perry Stevenson is likely to dunk a dozen times today as Delaware State double-teams Patterson. That is a very good thing.
For more on the particulars of this game, see my pre-game analysis a post or two down.
If UK does the following five things well, this will be a positive game:
- Defend the three -- we have allowed opponents to shoot 47.7% against us from the arc. That is unforgiveable.
- Get the ball into the post -- When we do this, we almost always score.
- Play Kentucky defense -- Get up into Hornet jerseys and prove that the concept of defense has not completely fled this Kentucky team.
- Get turnovers under control -- At this point, anything under 20 turnovers would have to be considered a major improvement.
- Young players need to step up and make plays -- That means you, Darrius Miller, Josh Harrellson and DeAndere Liggins.
Five things Kentucky can do to jeopardize this game and take another step back:
- Allow open 3-point shots -- The three has killed us, and will kill us again if we continue doing what we have been doing.
- Allow offensive rebounding -- This team is so much smaller than us, any rebound they get should be an accident.
- Get out-hustled -- These UK players must prove that they are worthy of the name on the front of their chest, and getting out-hustled again would cast that into serious doubt.
- Take bad shots -- Bad shots are nearly 100% responsible for bad shooting. Jodie Meeks, this means you.
- Lack confidence -- I can't recall a Kentucky team playing with less confidence, ever, than this team over the last two games. If the name on the front of your chest and the 24,000 screaming Big Blue fans don't give you confidence, surrender your scholarship and play elsewhere.
As you can see, I am less than amused with our current situation. I believe, but along with the rest of the Big Blue Nation, I expect and deserve to see some success and good basketball around here, and by Rupp's Runts, I demand it. I wanna see some UK basketball, not this psuedo-high school crap we have had to endure in bitter misery for the last two games.
Your comments go below. Let's get this ship righted and start bailing out the water.