Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We're #1 (Well....for a second)

Devan Downey had 30 points in the win over number one ranked Kentucky.
When the polls came out on Monday the Kentucky Wildcats were voted to be the unanimous #1 team in the country. The 19-0 Wildcats were coming off a dominating conference win at home and a battle in South Carolina against the 11-8 Gamecocks. South Carolina is last in the conference in assists, missing their top two big men from the start of the season and are basically the Devan Downey show. Well, Devan Downey delivered scoring 30 points in the 68-62 upset of the #1 Cats.

Kentucky could not find an answer for Downey and for the first time this season I didn't understand what Calipari was trying to accomplish on defense. Anyone who has watched Downey play knows that he is small, quick, and can dribble out of pressure. Kentucky's gameplan against Downey was to bring Eric Bledsoe up (their best defender) and pressure Downey at half court. What did Downey do? He blew right past the Kentucky defense and slashed to the basket. So his next strategy, lets bring Patterson up and try to trap him in the corners. Downey used his speed to elude the Kentucky trap and found the wide open man under the basket. I wondered to myself, why didn't Calipari go to a zone? The zone could have helped slow the penetration from Downey. They don't shoot the ball at a real high clip from three and they do not move the ball as they are in last place in assists. They play a spread out one on one type offense. If I were coaching the Cats (and for the record I am no where near good enough to do so) I would have taken a look at a zone defense.
John Wall shoots a jumper over Evaldas Baniulis.

Now, I don't want to sound like a bitter angry Kentucky fan, the fact of the matter is we are 19-1, a lock for the tournament, and playing the best basketball around here we have played in years. But its like when you were a kid, your parents aren't mad they are disappointed. I am extremely disappointed. I really wanted this team to make a run at Indiana's record. Kentucky has the talent to do it but as we saw tonight some games it might not come all together. I don't think Kentucky looked past South Carolina, I think they failed to execute at a number of points in the game and it caught up with them. Anyone who has watched this team throughout the year knows that there have been times they have not played like a #1 team but they continually found a way to win. Last night they just couldn't seal the deal.


redleg2420 said...

I also could not understand why he continued to try to press Downey. Downey had no problems getting around the press or out of the trap. Towards the end of that game though, there was just no defending him. He was making some crazy shots. He has throwing the ball high off the backboard, unblockable shots. He was very impressive. But, Wall was very impressive in the 2nd half too. He tried to take the game over in the last two minutes. He missed one free throw in the crunch but made probably 5 big ones in a row. He also missed one contested layup which would have been huge. But, I liked what I saw out of him. This loss might be a good thing for the tournament. It shows them that they are not invincible...a good wake up call.

Kevin said...

I bet Coach Cal secretly likes this loss. He didn't seem to thrilled to be #1, and it took the pressure off of this young team. Now they can relax and just play ball.