After playing six games in eight days, the Kentucky Wildcats were gassed throughout the game and finally succumbed today to the Dominican Republic, 63-62. However, the team still finished a very successful Big Blue Bahamas campaign, finishing at 5-1.
Although Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles were unable to play during the trip, the rest of the team gained significant experience and showed tremendous promise for the upcoming season. I watched all six contests and here some of my thoughts:
1) This is a very good college basketball team with a chance to be great. With the ability to send out two, quality five-man units each game, the Cats can apply pressure and present match-up problems for a full forty minutes. With the exception of perhaps a handful of teams, Kentucky’s second unit will be the toughest competition that the first unit will face.
2) Although he is considered the back-up point guard, Tyler Ulis will be in the game during crunch time. Look for both Harrison’s and Ulis to be in the lineup at game’s end. As long as he can consistently knock down free throws, Tyler’s ball handling skills, court awareness and pressure defense is just what the Cats needs during the waning minutes of a game.
3) Kentucky’s zone busting defense needs to include Karl Anthony Towns. Although Towns has the reputation of being able to knock down three point shots, it is presence in the middle of the zone defense that is necessary. He is an excellent passer, who can either hit the wings or can throw over the defense to the post. Plus, his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper will pose a nightmare scenario for teams that want to try to zone the Cats.
4) When Alex Poythress plays his best, the Wildcats are nearly unbeatable. Alex’ athleticism, energy, inside play and ability to guard multiple positions makes him the X-factor for this year’s team. For the first four games of the Bahamas tour, Alex was the best player on the court. He faltered during the last two games and had to sit out of most of the second half today. As a result, Kentucky struggled and even lost today without his presence on the court.
I could add more to the list, but would rather hear your thoughts. What do you think are the keys to success for the 2014-2015 version of the Kentucky Wildcats?
Photo Credit: riverfrontcitysports.com
Categories: College Basketball