Nov 29, 2012, 9:29 PM EDT
First and foremost, before we start talking about No. 8 Kentucky’s 64-50 loss to Notre Dame on Thursday night, we need to get one thing out there: Kentucky is not as bad as they were against the Irish.
The Wildcats are a young team, a group of freshmen, that have never had to play a true road game before, and the first place they are forced to play is Purcell Pavilion, which is probably one of the 10 or 15 toughest environments to play in? And they are still without their point guard? Going up against a Notre Dame team that is experienced, underrated and adept at controlling tempo and executing offensively?
What happened here is simple, actually. Notre Dame came out and punched Kentucky in the mouth, catching fire early and opening up a big first half lead. Kentucky responded by doing what freshmen are wont to do: forcing shots, getting impatient defensively, and most importantly, getting overwhelmed by a raucous home court that included Heisman hopeful Manti Te’o as a member of the student section.
“This was not two teams battling and then Notre Dame won,” John Calipari said after the game. “This was Notre Dame threw us around and dominated us.”
I even picked Notre Dame to win, and while I didn’t think that they would wipe the floor with the Wildcats, the result should not be surprising.
The Irish are underrated. By a lot. They have a veteran back court in Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins that are capable of controlling the pace of a basketball game — which allows Mike Brey to run his ‘Burn Offense’ when necessary — and that are dynamic play makers. They can penetrate to score, they can get into the lane and create, they run off of big Jack Cooley’s hard-hitting ball-screen, and they hit threes. Throw in shooters Scott Martin, Cameron Biedscheid, and Patrick Connaughton spreading the floor, and the Irish can put a lineup on the floor that is quite difficult to slow down.
And against Kentucky, you saw all of that.
You saw ball-screens. You saw penetration-and-kicks. You saw Cooley abuse the more athletic Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein with positioning and strength, as he finished with 13 points and 11 boards, six of which game on the offensive end of the floor.
Everyone on Notre Dame understands their role, and it’s quite obvious how the Irish fit together. And that right there is the most noteworthy dichotomy between these two programs.
The biggest concern I had about the Wildcats heading into this season had less to do with a lacking veteran presence (which is a concern, trust me) and more to do with the simple fact that the pieces on this team just don’t seem to fit together. Does Alex Poythress really want to be the man, which Kentucky needs him to be? Does he was to be a beast? Can Ryan Harrow be this team’s point guard down the road? Can Archie Goodwin, who is best suited to playing on a wing, learn to play the point in his stead? Is Julius Mays really this team’s Darius Miller? Can Kyle Wiltjer defend? Will either Noel or Cauley-Stein develop enough of an offensive game to be a threat?
Is this a team that plays big or small? Do they thrive on their defense? Is this a running team?
John Calipari’s has got his work cut out for him this season. There’s too much talent to ever count this team out, but if Thursday told us anything, it’s that Kentucky’s road to success may be longer than we thought.
May 24, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT
When it was announced just over a month ago that Central Connecticut State leading scorer Kyle Vinales would look to transfer, the biggest factor in his decision was a desire to reach postseason play. Vinales, who averaged nearly 22 points per game as a sophomore, at one point tweeted his decision to transfer to Toledo only…
May 24, 2013, 4:38 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 2:37 PM EDT
Last November the organizers of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced its completed eight-team field, with programs such as Florida State, Georgetown and Michigan being confirmed participants. Also among the eight teams: Auburn. But apparently something changed with the Tigers’ schedule, leading to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Northeastern would be the eighth…
May 24, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
In an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” this morning, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski discusses topics such as his decision to return as head coach of the US men’s national team for the 2016 Summer Olympics and his future at Duke. Also of note were Krzyzewski’s comments on incoming freshman Jabari Parker, stating that…
May 24, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
Earlier this week an advertisement for Calhoun’s BBQ done by former Tennessee basketball player Steven Pearl hit the airwaves, and it included a reference to current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. But that reference has led to the compliance department at Ohio State getting involved, looking to make sure it’s clear that there was…
May 24, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT
In the aftermath of Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer from Vanderbilt it was reported that Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was blocking Pittsburgh as a possible destination. Some assumed that tampering was the reason for the move, but according to a report by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that may not be the case. Regardless of…
May 24, 2013, 8:52 AM EDT
With the graduation of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, there was a chance that 6-6 forward Myke Henry would see more opportunities to produce for Illinois in 2013-14. However it seems as if the Chicago native won’t be around to realize such possibilities, as it was reported by the Champaign News-Gazette that Henry…
May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
Head coach Alan Major led the Charlotte basketball program to its first 20-win season since 2008 this past year, as the 49ers won 21 games and received a bid to the Postseason NIT. Next up for Major’s program is Conference USA, and the former Ohio State assistant will make the move with a new contract…
May 23, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT
While the head coaching carousel is the focus every offseason the many changes within a coaching staff can also have an impact. At Colorado, head coach Tad Boyle is fortunate to have led the same staff for each of his three seasons in Boulder, resulting in the most successful stretch in the history of the…
May 23, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
The eight-team field for the 2013 Cancun Challenge is finally set, with 2013 NCAA tournament participants Saint Louis and Wisconsin headlining the field. The event will feature two four-team fields, with the Billikens and Badgers being joined by Old Dominion and West Virginia in the Riviera Division. The Mayan Division bracket consists of Bowling Green,…
May 23, 2013, 6:20 PM EDT
With four departures (Butler, Charlotte, Temple and Xavier) and one arrival (George Mason), the Atlantic 10 Conference will have 13 members for the 2013-14 academic year with Davidson joining in 2014. Those changes have brought about another for the conference: beginning next season, all members will play in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays…
May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
While much of this past season was spent lamenting the changing of the Big East, another result of conference realignment was the improvement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball product. Sure Duke and North Carolina managed to carry their share of the load in the years following the move from nine to 12 schools, but…
May 23, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official on Thursday afternoon: he’ll be coaching Team USA basketball through at least the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That’s been known for almost a week now. The interesting bit of news that came out of his press conference on Thursday afternoon had nothing to do with…
May 23, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
I’m not sure there is a coach in the country that is better at developing players in his program than Bill Self at Kansas. Over the years, the best players that have come through Lawrence during his tenure have been moderately recruited — i.e. somewhere around the top 40 or top 50 of most lists…
May 23, 2013, 1:05 PM EDT
Cody Larson’s basketball career never got off the ground in Florida. After redshirting as a freshman, Larson was involved in a bizarre incident along with a team manager and Erik Murphy where he tried to break into a car after sneaking into a bar after closing time to inquire about a lost wallet. After being…
May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
It’s late May, it’s Thursday, and you don’t want to be paying attention at work when it’s nice out. So take 10 minutes and watch some dunks.
May 23, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT
Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard. “I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of…
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