Whitesburg KY

Wildcats are now competing, but are badly undermanned

Billy Gillispie’s Kentucky Wildcats are now competing and fighting like cornered junkyard dogs, but they’re tremendously undermanned and therefore lost two tough basketball games last week on the road in the SEC at Starkville, Miss. 69-64 and in Gainesville, Fla. 81-70 in OT. Both were very much winnable but the Cats couldn’t finish like UK teams traditionally have finished in years past.

It really starting to hurt to watch this team struggle to compete with good teams and win against mediocre teams.

I feel for Patrick Patterson most, and appreciate very much that he chose UK because he could have been at Duke playing for a national championship or Florida playing for an SEC championship and a strong run in the NCAA’s. With opponents now knowing they can doubleteam Patterson, seniors Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford obviously have very little help now that the team is in conference play. I do feel for them as well, but they did have three good 20- plus win seasons with opportunities to go deep into tournament play before this year.

Right now unless there are a couple of 6′ 8″ or bigger quality inside recruits out there I’m not aware of, I don’t think Patrick Patterson is going to get the normal opportunity in NCAA tournament play that most of UK’s high profile recruits have had in the past before they go on to the next level.

Former UK assistant

comments on Cats

Let’s face it, ESPN commentator Jimmy Dykes, who also was an assistant coach under Eddie Sutton at UK in the late ’80s, put it best last week when he said, “Kentucky, until Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks get back and healthy, is basically playing 3- on-5 and especially on the offensive end.” I couldn’t agree more and what really concerns me is those players filling out those other roles aren’t really showing any kind of improvement for as many minutes as they’re getting. Two mystery players that I would like to see on the floor a little more often are A.J. Stewart and Jared Carter. I’m still hopeful that Stewart can make a contribution somewhere down the road, but it’s really starting to look like Carter was a wasted scholarship.

What really deeply concerns me about this program is that UK has glaringly obvious weaknesses at the power forward and center positions known as the 4 and 5 spots in most basketball circles. Only one player (6’9″ freshman forward Patrick Patterson) is all I see for the next two years making contributions at these two positions. There must be three quality inside players to be the UK that we and the rest of the college basketball world have become accustomed to over the last 50 years.

Why, you say, am I so concerned about this problem? Because no one seems to have brought out to the forefront that the NCAA has a rule change already adopted and in place to start next fall for college basketball, and that is the 3-point line goes back 9 inches. This means the inside play of the forwards and centers is going to be magnified tremendously in all college teams’ offensive play. UK has only one player from whom it can get quality play at either of those two positions, and any opponent can take away one player.

It’s really just a little too early to be pessimistic about the future of this program, but let’s not forget how UCLA went in the wrong direction back in the early ’80s and its just now righting its ship 25 years later.

Brooks and Joker

get rewards

Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips each got a new raise and new extended contracts last week. Both were very deserving of these honors. I’m not sure which has had the biggest impact on UK football finally winning and going to bowl games and more importantly being consistently competitive in the tough SEC. But I’m sure of this, Joker Phillips was as sincere and honest as a Billy Graham sermon last Friday when he spoke of his love and devotion to UK football and Big Blue Nation in a day and age when you don’t really know who’s telling the truth in college athletics or what their agenda really is.

The comments that Joker Phillips made at the podium in the Wildcat Den below Commonwealth Stadium last Friday were from the heart, a solid blue heart.

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