As most Kentucky fans I watched the game vs. VMI last night and had to deal with all the emotions of being down huge, thinking there was no shot at a comeback, and then watching the team piss away a game with 4 minutes to go. It was a weird night to say the least. The best was the immediate reaction of about 1 million Kentucky fans across the state though. It went something like this, “GAR! Gillispie!!! RABBLE! RABBLE! RABBLE! GAR!” I’m paraphrasing, of course.
I understand it’s impossible to get this through to the true blue fans, but it was one game. It does not make a season. This is also not as embarrassing as the GW last year, so the comparison shouldn’t be made. Let me tell you why this game doesn’t mean dick to Kentucky’s season.
- They will not play a single game against a team that likes to get up and down like that. Not even Roy’s boys will want to run as much as VMI. I can distinctly remember a VMI player giving Ramon Harris a wide open layup (stepping out of his way) in the first half. Harris blew it, of course, but the point is the guy stepped out of the way instead of fouling him. There’s only one mentality on the VMI team. Run, run, run; to the point of giving up easy baskets in order to keep the tempo up. Cats fans, thankfully, won’t see another team like that all year.
- Kentucky’s 4 and 5 men were consistently guarding 6’5″ guys. Every time down Perry Stevenson was guarding a man at least 4 inches shorter than him and the “center” for VMI last night was half Patterson’s size, or so it seemed. Defensively there was nothing UK could do last night to defend in the half court (and definitely not in transition). If you have Perry or Pat get up on their man for Gillispie style pressure defense that man is going to go around them every time. No power forward or center can stay in front of a guard play after play down the floor. When they didn’t go out to apply pressure and get blown by their men were pulling threes and making them. Trust me the three ball is what beat them tonight.
- Staying on that point, the three point shot is what beat UK in this game. UK had more assists, five times as many blocked shots, and nearly 20 more rebounds than VMI in this game. They did all the things that they were expected to but they got into the up-and-down game and it cost them. Open threes were had by VMI all night off breaks. The team shot 14-31, a great number for any team, but the percentage isn’t surprising when you consider all the open looks they had. Many of those open looks were had by Gabriel (I believe was the kid’s name) when Stevenson was trying to guard him at the top of the key. He would rock left and then pull up wide open with his left handed J. Nothing that could be done about it.
In all, I understand how UK fans are feeling right now. They’re pissed because they all get excited about the new year and convince themselves they have players that can’t be beat. I’m all for that, get excited about your team, but quit with the bullshit doom and gloom. It’s one game, there won’t be another like it all year, get over it, and tune in Tuesday for the UNC game. They might lose again but if you’re really a fan you’ll put down the pitchfork and give Billy a chance to go dancin’ this year. Remember one thing: when you walk into Rupp Arena they don’t hang banners for 20 win seasons, 30 win seasons, or NCAA tournaments made. They hang final four and championship banners and I still believe Billy can get this team there if he’s given the time.
P.S. Please tell me that everyone in the Bluegrass has given up on Porter after the game last night. I’m tired of hearing people say he’s “improved” or can shoot well when given the opportunity. Just because the kid’s white doesn’t mean he can shoot or handle the ball. Please see last night’s game as Exhibit A.