Monday, December 12, 2005


Indiana kicks the snot out of Kentucky; 79-53, and that feels good. For too long the Wildcats have been bullying the Hoosiers. But!

The test of redemption for Davis comes not with this win, but whether he can motivate his guys to get past Charlotte on the road. Charlotte, unlike UK, has a great inside presence in Curtis Withers that could get IU in bad foul trouble real quick. This said, Northwestern beat these guys (as have Wyoming, Miss. St., and Valpo), so IU needs to just get up by ten on these guys and stay up. If Davis can motivate his guys to remember last year's bullshit loss (jeez, I'm still mad about that one), and prepare properly this week, and then go on to take down Butler and Ball State in their houses, I will consider the Indiana State loss a fluke. But the inconsistency of past Davis ballclubs still has me jittery.

Notes on UK:

Kentucky is jsut not very good without Randolph Morris and Chuck Hayes. And I don't think having Kelenna Azuibuke would have helped all that much. I honestly expected Morris to be back (thus my preseason #14 ranking) and a balance to be able to be maintained on both sides of the floor. But without Morris or Hayes' inside presence, I see something the Hoosiers would run into a couple of years ago when Jeff Newton would get in foul trouble, a bunch of good shooters trying to figure out how to get off quality 3's with no interior threat. The saying goes you can get good threes in 3 ways: Kick-outs, on skip passes (possibly w/screens), and in transition. If you don't have good interior players, kick-outs disappear, as do screens when the Refs don't respect your big guys, so you're only left with transition looks.

I didn't see Kentucky trying to get three-pointers in transition. I don't question Tubby on this, as taking to the rack is a better bet (especially when your name is Rajon Rondo), but outside of Rondo, when the threes aren't falling, I don't know what else the Wildcats will have outside of a full-court press.

Rekalin Sims may be a decent player, but he was just overwhelmed against Marco. No shame, but he's it inside. The 7-footers are stiffs who should be second-and-third string, not options 1 and 2 at center. Sheray Thomas can fill some minutes, but is hardly a difference-maker.

Rondo's great. Doesn't give up, amazingly athletic, hits his free-throws, just needs to spend next summer shooting threes. The other guards are okay, Sparks being the best of them, but they seemed to get the wind taken out of their sails when the threes didn't fall.

Long story short, I respect Tubby and salute Rondo, but without Morris, this club should definitely not be ranked, and has a lot of work to do to even make the NCAA's.

Notes on IU:

How great does Ratliff look? His game ain't just threes. He seems to be the key to the Hoosier perimeter now. His ability not only to knock down the outside shot, but then take advantage of that capital to finish on smooth drives, and follow his own shot, is a weapon that IU hasn't had since... Damon Bailey? Maybe just since Luke Recker. And on defense, his long-armed blocking of three-point shots is not only good in itself, but makes foes think when shooting threes, and that's a great thing to have. I look for Ratliff to start taking all of Suhr's minutes and some of Wilmont's. Errek, you've done all you can at the 2-spot, but Ratliff's athleticism and defense can't be matched.

Marco's good, but he also got the benefits of some whistes and played against guys that he would beat in a boxing match 10 times out of 10. Nobody could body him away from the basket, and UK's wings aren't tall enough to bother his passing. But do I ever love having beast who snags every defensive board and then throws some 'bows to make guys afraid of getting in his grill.

However, I really don't like having to worry down the stretch just because UK put a crazy press on. I noticed that it happened right after Lewis Monroe fouled out, so maybe Tubby didn't want to try against a veteran point, or maybe it was just sheer desparation paying off late.

But like I said, at Charlotte is now the game to watch.


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