Without question, the Kentucky Wildcats were in desperate need of a victory today. The Cats came into their match up with the Alabama Crimson Tide losers of four straight, the first time in the John Calipari era that had happened.
In those losses, it was painfully obvious the Cats needed a huge boost in effort on the floor. One Cat that answered the call was Jarred Vanderbilt.
The freshman responded with 11 points and and a team high nine rebounds to help propel UK (18-9, 7-7 SEC) to a 81-71 victory over the Crimson Tide (17-10, 8-6 SEC) Saturday afternoon at a sold out Rupp Arena.
After the game, Kentucky coach had high praise for Vanderbilt’s effort, comparing him to a familiar basketball figure known around the world.
“Be Dennis Rodman...he did alright,” Calipari said in his post game news conference.
Rodman, a 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, was known for his tenacious play on defense and on the backboard. For his 13 year career, Rodman averaged seven points and 13 rebounds per game.
Vanderbilt compares favorably to Rodman. The 6-9 forward is long and athletic like Rodman. Vanderbilt also gives a great effort both rebounding and on defense, much like Rodman as well.
Over his first ten games as a Wildcat, Vanderbilt is averaging 4.9 points and a team high 6.9 rebounds per outing. Vanderbilt has also shown the ability to defend multiple positions on the floor. “The Worm,” as Rodman was known in his career, had that ability.
There is one thing that remains to be seen about Vanderbilt. Rodman helped lead his NBA squads to championships in Detroit and Chicago.
Cats fans everywhere hope Vanderbilt can help lead UK to a championship as well.