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Content by MICHAEL WILLIS & Photo by MONT DAWSON …
The fireworks and smoke have dissipated from the celebration of Big Blue Madness and competitive basketball has begun. While BBM is great for the fun, most Kentucky basketball fans prefer to see the Wildcats in a more competitive environment. It is also a way for the Big Blue Nation to get tickets close to the court that otherwise are not available or too expensive.
Before the tip, Coach Calipari spoke to the crowed and said that they were going to do things a little different this year at the Blue/White Game. He announced that they were going to warm up for the first fifteen minutes of the game and they were even going to play some zone this year. The latter comment drew a round of applause from the fans.
Giving a team grade is impossible with the format of the game, but here are some player observations:
Nick Richards was more mobile than we have seen from him the past two years and was able to lead the team with 11 rebounds.
Kahlil Whitney is going to get lots of dunks this year. He was on the receiving end of numerous alley-oops and I predict he will be as the season moves forward.
Nate Sestina is going to be hard for opponents to guard this season. He is strong enough to play in the paint, but can shoot the three. He was 4 for 8 from behind the arc tonight.
Tyrese Maxey reminds me of Eric Bledsoe. He has the ability to get to the rim whenever he wants and can hit the deep ball. I expect him to start from day one.
Johnny Juzang’s floaters are impossible to guard. As effective as the it was, I could see him using that shot often during the season. He ended the game with 12 points.
Keion Brooks Jr looked out of sorts at times during the game, but he is athletic enough to see minutes.
E.J. Montgomery disappeared at times on the court, but had an impressive put back dunk that brought the crowd to it’s feet.
Immanuel Quickley was noticeably more aggressive and stated after the game that Calipari wanted him to start playing that way. He led the team in points with 25.
Ashton Hagans handled his point guard role well and was a vocal leader on the court. He ended the game with 6 assist and only one turnover.
Overall, I was very impressed with how well this team played and I think by the time March gets here they could be good enough to make a deep run in the tourney. The Wildcats will play Georgetown College for their first real opponent on Sunday October 27 at 5:00 p.m.