Today, the Wildcats welcome the Northern Kentucky Norse. For some reason, I always want to call them the Norks. The North Koreans should be proud.
Anyway, to the Norse. Northern Kentucky and Kentucky have met on one previous occasion, back in 2004 in an exhibition contest. Kentucky won 91-73.
Northern Kentucky is in the process of transitioning from Division II to Division I in college athletics. It will be granted full Division I membership in 2016.
Northern Kentucky's basketball program first began in 1971
Northern Kentucky has played in 12 NCAA Division II Tournaments, and played for the championship in back-to-back years in 1995 and 1996.
Since 2004, when the current coach Dave Bezold has seen the Norse participate in three NCAA tournaments: 2009, 2011 and 2012.
This will be the second season as a transitional Division I member for the Norse.
The Norse return only one starter, and only five lettermen from last year's squad
|2||Jordan Jackson||S||G||6-2||180||Jr.||St. Paul, Minn. / Henry Sibley||Williston (N.D.) State|
|10||Tyler White||S||G||6-3||180||So.||Lima, Ohio / Lima Senior|
|21||Jalen Billups||S||F/C||6-6||240||So.||Cincinnati, Ohio / Shroder|
|23||Todd Johnson||S||G||5-9||170||So.||Elkhart, Ind. / Memorial|
|25||Cole Murray||S||G||6-7||190||Fr.||Delphi, Ind. / Delphi|
|1||Jack Flournoy||MR||F||6-6||210||So.||Mt. Hope, W.Va. / Woodberry Forest|
|5||Matt Rosenwinkel||R||G||6-2||200||Fr.||Rochelle, Ill. / Rochelle Township|
|15||Daniel Camps||R||F||6-5||220||Fr.||Fayetteville, N.C. / Jack Britt|
|20||Jake Giesler||MR||C||6-7||230||So.||Ft. Thomas, Ky. / Newport Central Catholic||Jacksonville|
|24||Chad Jackson||R||G||6-4||195||Sr.||Lexington, Ky. / Scott County||James Madison|
|33||Anthony Monaco||MR||G||6-4||185||So.||Dover, Ohio / Dover|
|35||Deontae Cole||MR||F||6-6||190||Fr.||Toledo, Ohio / Central Catholic|
|40||Jared Bryant||R||F/C||6-7||240||Jr.||Cincinnati, Ohio / Roger Bacon||Chattanooga|
|44||Dean Danos||R||G||5-11||160||Fr.||Oak Lawn, Ill. / Bishop Noll (Ind.)|
|MR = major reserve|
|R = Reserve|
- Leading scorer: Jordan Jackson
- Leading rebounder: Todd Jackson
- Assist leader: Jordan Jackson
- Steals leader: Todd Jackson
- Main 3-point threats:
- Todd Jackson
- Jack Flournoy
- Tyler White
The Norse are very much smaller than Kentucky at every position, just as they were the Purdue Boilermakers, who barely escaped defeat at the hands of the Norse on Friday, 77-76.
Now, before you go thinking that was probably due to a foul-fest, don't. Only 32 fouls were called in that game, and the Norse got to Purdue in the simplest, most natural way possible — by almost outscoring them. Using Ken Pomeroy's numbers, the Norse scored 1.19 points/possession, and shot 50% from the 3-point line, which they had to do in order to be competitive — NKY managed only 38% from 2 point range.
So the key to this game for the Wildcats is to make the Norse into drivers, and force them so shoot shots inside the arc. That means staying home on every perimeter player and trusting the defensive rotation to challenge shots inside.
From an offensive standpoint, the Wildcats should have little to fear from the Norse. Purdue dominated Northern Kentucky inside the paint, going 20-43 from inside the arc and shooting 47% from there. But the Norse rebounded the ball very effectively against the much larger Purdue team, and it will be important for the Wildcats to keep the smaller, quicker Norse off the offensive glass.
Overall, Kentucky should have little to fear from the Norse. While quick, Norther Kentucky is not as athletic or long as the Wildcats, to a much greater extent even than Purdue was, and that will take it's toll. Not only that, Kentucky is vastly more talented than Purdue, so don't expect this game to be competitive for too long.