Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Blue-White Notes

What do we take from the UK-on-UK basketball tune-up for the 2010-2011 season? Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight are gonna be better than whoever you think is gonna be good from another team.

Everyone always gets in a tizzy whenever you attempt to extrapolate information from a practice/scrimmage/exhibition, but I'm just telling you what I see out of these guys' skill sets and level of performance in this Blue-White game. So ... don't tell me I'm looking too much into a game that doesn't count. Because I am looking too much into it.

It was basically the expected starters for the season versus the back-ups with a few minor trade tweaks throughout the game, which accounted for the Blue team winning 101 to 74. Even though Knight had an insanely efficient night of a sick 37 points (reinforcing his astronomical scoring potential that has now become an expectation since the Canada games), it was TJ who had me the most excited. He (don't kill me for saying it) reminded me of a 6'9" John Wall. If Jones got the ball on the run, no one had a chance to stop him from advancing the ball wherever he wanted. His speed and handle will leave no chance for anyone at his position to compete with him in open-court scenarios. He's ridiculously quick off his feet for on-ball blocks and aggressive on the boards. Once Jones got into the painted area, he consistently found a creative way to get the ball in the rim. He utilized pump fakes well (which you rarely see from young players) and showed a deft touch on close-range jumpers. He finished off three separate alley-oop lobs with the full-body flair and excitement that Wall exhibited on every dunk last year and tossed in a 3-pointer to boot. And to finish off the number-one-pick-in-the-2010-NBA-Draft comparison, Terrence pulled of a slick behind-his-back maneuver off a low-post catch that completely freed him for a vertical dunk. Terrence had the crowd at his beckoning with every amazing play and you could tell by his body language that he was feasting off of it. UPDATE: He had 29 points.

But now to the silent assassin who's prolly gonna match Jodie Meeks for UK's all-time single game scoring record at some point in the early season. If a box score becomes available then I'll update, but I'd venture to say that Brandon Knight made close to 70% of his shots tonight for those 37 points (UPDATE: 14 of 20 FGs). And he did it every way imaginable. He showed off the spot-up three point stroke off an interior pass as well as when coming off a pick and receiving the inbounds pass. He swished a rhythm step-in 18-footer with a hand right in his face. He showed his amazing ability to absorb contact in the paint despite his wirey frame and finished on both sides of the bucket with either hand. The game's almost too easy for him. And we saw both sides of Knight in this scrimmage: the facilitator of the first half who only scored 9 points while content to simply run the offensive sets and the unstoppable attacker of the second half who took every opportunity to create a great look for himself. With this year's team extensively lacking the depth of their '09-'10 predecessors, Knight will be needed to frequently channel his second-half mentality for us to have any hope as a top ten team nationally. It was only fitting that Brandon was also the alley to T-Jones' monster oops and that he finished off his own fastbreak jam in astounding fashion as well. Brandon won't have the SportsCenter coverage that our own John Wall had last season, but I'll be damned if he doesn't average over 24 points this year. Mark it. And I might still be underestimating the man.

Off course, all of these assessments and predictions come at the cost of Enes Kanter's assumed ineligibility. If he's cleared somehow, then this team's potential shoots up exponentially. But as of now, our only reliable big men are Jones and Darius Miller. Yes, you heard me right ... Darius the two-guard is our second best big man. Eloy and Harrellson are going to be contributors, but coming off a season where we had a trio of first round NBA bigs with a senior shot-blocker behind them, this year's going to be tough to watch in the paint. I expect Jones and Miller to fill in at the 5 spot quite a bit this season unless the opponent just has a big plodding Zydrunas Ilgauskas-type center that Harrellson could match up against perfectly. But Dexter Pittman's in the NBA now, so there aren't any guys like that left in college ...

He couldn't get a jumper to fall in the game, but trust in DeAndre Liggins' long range shot. In warm-ups, he was an absolute machine. He was dropping 22-footer after 22-footer after 22-footer with absolutely no effort. His form is still slightly jerky and erratic-looking, but he'll prove over the course of the season that his 66-threes-in-5-minutes drill wasn't a fluke. Beyond that part of his game that we can expect to skyrocket, Dre has shown that he'll be relentless in attacking the basket. He is making himself the prototypical Dribble-Drive athlete with his ability to force his way to the hoop and contort himself in a way to either finish or get fouled. But where his real bread and butter will continue to be is with his hyper-defensive instincts. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else in college basketball who takes such visible passion in hounding his opponents. He's a scrapper who actually has other skills, which is innately rare. We're not talking Bruce Bowen, we're talking Ron Artest in his prime. (UPDATE: He had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists.) That's why Liggins is going to be a proud UK alum in the National Basketball Association either this year or next.

Darius Miller inherited Patrick Patterson's "favorite child" status amongst UK fans this season. His cheers took it to another decibel level between Madness and this game. If Darius had shown this level of confidence last season, you would have seen him knocking down threes left and right against West Virginia and we would've been in the Final Four. But alas, now that he has the shadow of last year's freshman class off his back and two years of NCAA experience under his belt, this is his breakout season. Even though there will prolly be other guys surpassing in most all statistical categories, this is Darius' team. (UPDATE: He had 20 points and 6 rebounds.) When he gets rolling and controls the ball on certain possessions, you can just tell. He's a guard with the size of a forward who can score from anywhere and rebound against anyone. Between this, Madness, and the open practice last week, you can tell there's a great personal competition between Jones and Miller. They are almost always matched up against each other and are close to the same size. The both shared in moments of trying to force it against the other on the offensive end and getting blocked, but they also showed each other up on quick-trigger jumpers and blow-by drives. It's great to watch and will probably continue on over the season in a similar fashion to the way Daniel Orton and Demarcus Cousins continually made each other better. In a lot of cases, that practice match-up may be significantly tougher than the weekly game opposition.

To sum everyone else up ... Vargas showed off a nice interior passing touch but still can't absorb contact, Polson can't bring the ball up against NCAA defenses but he can surprisingly finish at the rim pretty well, Harrellson is confident with his hook shot from either hand but still can't seal in rebounds with consistency (UPDATE: hard for me to believe from watching it, but he apparently had 26 rebounds), Lamb will be an effortless scorer from day one but often attempts to be too creative and over-dribble (UPDATE: 16 points and 6 assists), Hood still has no stand-out skill and will likely see little playing time (UPDATE: shot 6-20), and Poole simply doesn't know where he can contribute to the team yet since he has a miserable long-range shooting stroke. There ya go.

... and Free Enes.


  1. Nice man, I like it! This is awesome, looking forward to this season. Enes would put us over the top man. It would be amazing to get him back!!!

  2. i'm glad you enjoyed it. and yeah, if we get enes cleared then we're immediately a championship contender again. it's that simple.


so what did ya think about whatever the heck i wrote?