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Miami 73, Kentucky 67: Post Mortem

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First things first.  Congratulations to the Miami Hurricanes on a well-earned and well-deserved victory.  They were the more focused and mature team, and even though UK really tested them at the end, they proved that they deserved to be ranked by coming in to Rupp Arena and beating the 'Cats fair and square.  Well done, noble victory.

OK.  This next bit is a "stream of consciousness" rant because I had a lot mentally invested in this game, and my return was ... poor.

I am sick and tired of losing these kinds of games.  SickAndTired.  I want this team to perform, and what I see on the floor is unacceptable all to often.  I don't give one tiny hoot who plays well in practice and who doesn't.  I'm done defending Michael Porter starting.  I don't care if Porter is tough enough to walk through a brick wall, knock back a quart of whiskey and jump off the Empire State building and walk away with only cuts and bruises.  He isn't a good enough basketball player to start for Kentucky.  That is a fact.  It is not an opinion.

If Gillispie continues to start him, I absolutely guarantee criticism.  I don't care one whit what Gillispie thinks anymore, I am done with this nonsense.  There is absolutely no excuse for starting Porter over Liggins, and if Gillispie can't figure that out , I plan to give him a lot of help.  I know coach is a self-styled not-so-smart hard case, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what went wrong in the first five minutes, and I am no longer willing to grant him any latitude at all on this subject.

I really like Michael Porter, I do.  I want him to play.  He is a great kid who deserves to play, and brings valuable things to the team.  But we have to stop making excuses for bad coaching decisions, and starting Porter with half an eye closed over Liggins, who is simply the best point guard UK has had since Rondo, no longer makes any sense to anyone whatsoever.  Therefore, it is no longer defensible as far as I am concerned, all other things remaining equal.  If this was punishment for his misbehavior in Vegas, fine.  From now on, no more.

End tirade.

Now, for the post mortem.  The bottom line is, Kentucky lost this game in the first 15 minutes.  They did it by utterly failing to do the most fundamental things well, especially hustling after the ball and getting it into the post.  In the second half, they were great, just great.  But the first half had absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Kentucky basketball.

I grant that the Hurricanes were extremely hot in the first half, but that isn't enough of an excuse for me to forgive a 20-point deficit at halftime.  If Gillispie can't motivate his charges to play hard in the first 20 minutes, he needs to hire any one of about 50,000 Wildcat fans who have lived and died with this program.  I guarantee any one of them could motivate these kids to drink battery acid and urinate blue Gatorade.

Here are my obvservations, and keep in mind, in case you haven't figured it out yet, that I am not a happy 'Cat fan:

  • Darius Miller -- if you aren't going to shoot the ball, get the hell out of the game.  We need you to take shots when you are open.  If you miss, we will forgive you as long as it was a good shot.
  • Patrick Patterson -- Post up strong!  Every time!  Without you getting the ball, we cannot win, and half of getting you the ball is up to you.
  • Jodie Meeks -- When your shot is off, drive the ball into the lane.  Sometimes, it won't fall, but we need you to score.
  • DeAndre Liggins -- Shoot when you're open.  Try to manufacture shots for others, not yourself.  That's what point guards do.  Also, take about 50 MPH off your passes.  Yes, they are open, but this is not football.  You don't get extra bonus points for hitting them harder.
  • Perry Stevenson -- Learn to make the corner jumper and we will do better.
  • Josh Harrellson -- Keep trying.  You have the right idea, just keep trying harder.
  • Kevin Galloway -- For God's sake, son, make the  simple pass.
  • Our defense in the first half was utterly matador.
  • Our defense in the second half was outstanding.
  • Jack McClinton barely scored in the second half.  Why do we have to wait until the second half to do what we should be doing?
  • Patterson and Stevenson -- Dunk the damn ball!  Every time!  If you bounce one off the rim and into the top row, consider yourself forgiven.
  • Billy Gillispie -- Surely, surely you can make adjustments without having to wait until the second half to descend into a tirade.  Surely.

I confess, I am not a happy Wildcat fan.  This is a game we should have won, but we lost because of bad coaching decisions early in the game and an unacceptably low intensity until the second half.  This is silly, bush-league basketball, always having to fight out of a huge hole.  Where is the Kentucky basketball I saw against Lamar??

I am sick of hearing Gillispie tell us it's his fault -- Note to Billy:  Damn Skippy it is!  Frankly, I am sick of losing, period.  This team is talented enough to win against all but the very best.  An occasional loss to a more experienced opponent is forgivable, but this was a failure from the outset, and I am sick and tired of spotting teams 10-20 points and trying to overcome that deficit.  I place that blame squarely where it belongs -- on the coach.

I want Kentucky basketball back, and by God, I want it right now!