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Kentucky 91, Longwood 57: Post Mortem

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Thanks and best wishes to the Longwood Lancers for coming in and giving their all against the Kentucky Wildcats.  Longwood came in undermanned but determined, and despite playing a torturous schedule recently, gave a game effort against the Kentucky Wildcats.

My feelings about this game are mixed, but decidedly positive in the aggregate.  Kentucky came out very impressively in the first half on defense, and offensively, they demonstrated a commitment to getting the ball into the post and letting Patrick Patterson do what he is supposed to do -- score, pass and rebound.  As a result, Patterson had by far the best game of his year so far, and although he still looks a bit less than 100% to me, 90% was more than enough for the Lancers.

I haven't looked at the stats yet, because they really don't mean much.  Instead, I will trust my impressions of what I saw as to how people played.  Here are some of my observations, and as you might expect, I can always find things to criticize, even in a game like tonight's.  To wit:

  • Michael Porter played a very decent ball game.  He wasn't special, but he was consistent and predictable.  However, he has yet to convince me that he will be any more than a back up contributor on this year's team.
  • DeAndre Liggins continues to get more and more minutes.  I don't know how many he had, but he had more than Porter, and rightly so.  Liggins has within him a very special player struggling to break out.  One minute, it is, "Oooh, ahhh!" and the next it is a high-school play that results in a turnover.  But if he continues to improve, especially with his shooting and driving, he will be a starter very soon.
  • Darius Miller didn't have as good a game as the last one, but he was still very steady and gave a good effort.  Miller's passing is incredible for a freshman swing player, as is the maturity of his game.  On the down side, his jumpshot is broken from beyond 15 feet, as he tends to shoot on the way down, which is why his shot is so flat and often short from 3-point range.  The coaching staff needs to work on that.
  • Perry Stevenson had his usual game.  Lots of blocks, lots of rebounds, a few points.  I think he needs to pick up his scoring in the post.  He is capable, but disappoints too often.  But he sure is becoming a good passer.
  • Patrick Patterson -- What can I say?  The big guy delivered in spades tonight, and not just with points, but with assists, blocks and rebounds.  Good game for Pat, and I think he is working his way back to the beast we saw last year.
  • Josh Harrellson did some really good things tonight, and despite the fact that his shot was off a bit from the perimeter, he really impressed me with his quickness and aggressiveness on defense, and his tough work on the boards.  I wish we could bottle this game and put a drop of its essence on his tongue every game.  Very solid.
  • Razor Ramon Harris -- Despite not starting, Harris was impressive.  He was, as usual, efficient and constantly scoring on easy shots, rebounding and generally being a defensive nightmare.  This guy is one fine basketball player, and may only be a jump shot away from being a second-round draft pick.  More likely, he will spend his time at the next level in Europe, but the guy has skills and obviously takes instruction well.  Ramon plays the game to his strengths, and in college ball, that is a rare gift.
  • Jodie Meeks was himself, just not as hot.  I was really angry (and so was Coach) about that undefended three he allowed from the left corner in the first half despite being right in the guy's face.  What was that?  But he played pretty well, although I thought he took too many plays off on defense.  Jodie needs a bit of a butt-kicking so he can get his mind right.  He can do much better than this.  On the plus side, he took better shots tonight.
  • Kevin Galloway played some pretty good minutes, but Gillispie is still not happy with what he is doing, and I can see why now.  Galloway has a lot of very bad habits he must break, and that will take some time.

Overall, this was another step forward for the 'Cats.  They evened out their scoring load and kept the defensive intensity high.  They let up a bit in the second half, which really annoys me because I understand that winning and playing to win is a habit, and doing what they did in the second half is counterproductive.  Gillispie will no doubt remind them that they are not on the floor to entertain or lallygag, but to play the game to the best of their ability every single possession.  Anything less is unacceptable.

But with all that said, I feel much better about where Kentucky is today than I did a week ago.  UK may not be world beaters, but they are learning the right things and making progress game to game.  That's all I can ask.