I hear the secrets that you keep
When you're talking in your sleep -- The Romantics
1980's music always brings me a sense of peace, of youth. Of the times when the weight of the world was on someone else's shoulders. I do wonder what I was saying last night when I was talking in my sleep, no doubt about the game we lost against Miami.
I am still very unhappy about what I saw last night against the Miami Hurricanes, and unfortunately, morning has brought me neither a desire to backtrack from my earlier comments, nor a sense of serenity about this Kentucky basketball team. It's possible that some may have misunderstood my criticism of Coach Gillispie as a desire to see him replaced. That isn't the case at all. Nothing he could do on the basketball court at this point in his UK career would make me want that. Every coach needs time to develop, just as young players do. Kentucky is a very tough job, and that is clearly illustrated by my lack of patience for the hot-and-cold nature this team has displayed so far this season.
I know that Gillispie understands that harsh fan criticism comes with the territory, and I am certain he can handle it. But don't mistake that criticism for a lack of faith in his ability, or that of this team -- this team is way better than they showed last night, which is a big part of my earlier angry tirade. If some of you are surprised by the tone of my post-game comments, be advised that I try to be level-headed and sober in my judgments, but when the provocation is sufficiently great (as it was last night, to me at least), I have to call 'em as I see 'em, right or wrong.
John Clay has a column today about Jodie Meeks play last night, a sort of "what went wrong" review and some discussion of Meeks' and Patterson's role on the team. Kentucky has seen relatively little zone this year, but that can't be an excuse -- a zone allows you to take perimeter shots more easily, but it is also harder to execute properly and should provide tons of offensive rebounding, and it did -- UK had nine (!) offensive rebounds in each half, and yet could not make those extra shots at the basket count. In other statistical news, UK shot TWO free throws in the first half. Two. Why? We weren't getting the ball inside and weren't attacking the rim, we were settling for challenged three point shots.
After this game, I can assure you we will be seeing a lot of zone, even by teams that eschew the zone (except maybe for fanatical man-to-man adherents like Huggins). Think the Louisville Cardinals might have a zone in mind for UK? Oh, yeah. So if we learn nothing else from this game, we need to learn how to attack a zone where the team we are playing is of equal or greater skill.
There are a lot of things we can learn from last night's debacle, not the least of which is that players will have cold days from the perimeter. When that happens, you have to find a way to get the ball into the painted area either by the pass or by the dribble and get shots closer to the basket. You can't decline open foul-line and 15 foot short corner jumpers like Miller and Stevenson did last night. Thank God Josh Harrellson knew those were good shots.
I had hoped this team turned a corner in Vegas. It has not. The good news is, there is still most of the season left to go.
Oh, and one other meme I am sick and tired of reading, though fortunately not here -- this is not a rebuilding year! This team is perfectly capable, and to call it a rebuilding year is just plain excuse-making.
[UPDATE] Eric Crawford of the C-J makes some great points in an article this morning. Nothing but validation, frankly.
[UPDATE] Lest we think this is all on Gillispie, he apparently had the game plan right, but his charges failed to execute it [via Tom Leach].