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The Fast and Hurry-less

The beginning of what hopes to be an epic season.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Is it possible to be fast and not be in a hurry?

Fast by definition is an adjective – meaning to act, moving, or capable of acting or moving quickly; swift.

Hurry defined is a verb – meaning to cause to move or act with undue haste; or to rush

One does not mean the same as the other

So, it is possible to be fast and not in a hurry.

If you can learn to do it well on a basketball court, it results in an aggressiveness that is nearly unstoppable.

Playing fast but never in a hurry is a good way to describe what happened in the Wildcats’ season opener against the Howard Bison. The 95-63 win by 32 points was impressive when you realize it was accomplished without 3 of the established anchor points of the team.

Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, and Daimion Collins all were out due to injury or family needs. On the night, when the nets cooled off, Kentucky had shot 54.8% from the field, including 45.8% from three-point land, while holding Howard to 34.3%.

If you break apart the game, you find four Wildcats finishing in double figures. Antonio Reeves with 22 points and CJ Fredrick with 20. Two players over 20 in any game is rare for Kentucky. With Wheeler hurt, Cason Wallace started at point guard and almost got a triple-double on his birthday, finishing with 15 points (7-11 FG), 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.

The play of Wallace provided a sigh of relief because it signals that this edition of the Wildcats has more than one player that can manage the point. That is tremendous news as the season begins. Jacob Toppin locked in his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Livingston, Ugonna Onyenso, Lance Ware, and Adou Thiero all had moments of brilliance.

It was a given that Kentucky wanted to play fast. And after a sluggish and perhaps nervous first five minutes, they turned up the dial on the heat. There were scoring flurries, one exchange found every Cat on the floor touching a loose ball and never backing off, the hustle ending with a Fredrick jump shot. The team spread the floor, they found their space, and they moved the ball. Shooting often clicks when the passing is good, and this team moved the ball against Howard.

Reeves and Fredrick answered the question that often perplexes fans as a new season begins. Where are their points on the floor? It is easy to assume that Tshiebwe is going to score and rebound. Wheeler has proven to be an effective slasher toward the bucket. But what happens if they are cold, or shut down, or in this case hurt? Are there more points on the floor to be found? Who can pick up the slack? Where will the points come from?

Again, the answer starts with Reeves and Fredrick. If they find their space on the perimeter, on a night with Wheeler at the point and Oscar in the middle, other teams will find it hard to stop them. Toppin and Wallace are credible threats as well, and their ability to find the rim also should make the Big Blue Nation breathe a sigh of relief.

Even Coach Calipari echoed that in his comments.

“But … when you guard and then make baskets the other team’s rim shrinks…So this was, to be honest, I didn’t think we would have this kind of showing.”

But they did have that kind of showing. The University of Kentucky stepped onto the floor of Rupp Arena, without having three of their stars, and came up shining with speed, flying fast, but never getting in a hurry. The result was a blowout and a great way to begin what most hope will be an epic season.