Thursday, February 23, 2006

The UK Wildcats finally seem ready to start the season.

I know all the trials and tribulations that the UK Wildcats have gone through this year. I know that in some games they couldn’t score. I know that in some games they couldn’t play defense. I also know that in some games they could neither score nor play defense. I know all this. I also know that Sivart will try to harsh my mel, but I have to go through with this.

Last night’s 80-40 massacre at Rupp was one of the few games this year that UK and its fans were able to take a breath and relax. The black cloud that has hovered over Tubby Smith and the Wildcats let a little sunshine through last night as the Cats doubled up Ole Miss. As I watched that game I kept telling everyone, “This is getting ugly.” It got worse as the game went on. I actually felt sorry for Ole Miss. Another thing I kept thinking was how bad can Ole Miss be? Was that the reason it got so bad? Was it because UK was at home? Was it because “The Master” finally got off the bench to show the state there is more than one Kentucky white boy out there that can drop bombs? Probably not, but something went right.

UK shot 50% from the field and held Ole Miss to 22.4%. UK out rebounded them by 9, had 11 more assists, had 6 more blocks and 5 more threes. Did I mention that they doubled them up? Could Tubby’s plan of starting from scratch and grading players in practice to decide his starting lineup be paying off? I wonder if some former starters have been motivated to play harder and smarter because they lost their starting job to a once little used player. Rondo and Morris definitely must be feeling a little miffed. Ramal Bradley was so frustrated with the new system that he broke his hand hitting the basket support during a temper tantrum.

Maybe this has system that Tubby has put in has made the bench players realize that if Brandon Stockton can start three or four games than they have a real shot at playing time. I mean Preston “The Master” LeMaster got major pt and made the most of it with 12 points. I know that this was a bottom feeder team that UK beat, but if this had happened earlier in the SEC schedule, I believe that this game would have been a lot closer.

The next three games will be the true test of this new approach, LSU on the road, UT on the road, and Florida at home. Before we started this mini revival I would have thought that there was no way to win a game in this stretch and UK would get blown out in every one of them. Now I believe that UK can get at least one game and play respectable in the other games. I’m not saying they are back, baby, I do not think they have a shot in hades to win the SEC tourney or make a Final Four run. I will say however that Cats seem to have woken up at the right time of the season and will be a scary opponent in the post season.

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