I was sitting here this morning watching the Kentucky Blue-White Game that I recorded last night. As usual, I’m starting to get excited about basketball season, so I thought this might be an opportunity to write down some observations.
- With Kentucky basketball, it’s not a given that you’re going to get a player play their sophomore year. Last year PJ Washington came back and did himself some favors in regard to NBA draft standing. I think he might end up being looked at as the benchmark for some of these guys who come back a second year. The ones to look at this year are Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and EJ Montgomery. For me, from these three guys, the one who has taken the biggest jump is Immanuel. He looks so much more confident and just knows what he can do out there. Ashton is reigning Defensive player of the year from the SEC last year and he still looks good. His shot is improved, but I’m not sure he’ll ever be a knock down shooter. EJ also looks better and, with more playing time, he’ll be an important piece. But I predict Immanuel will be on the floor a lot at the end of the game. Cal hinted at that on the broadcast. Maybe he won’t be a starter, but he’ll play starters minutes and will be on the floor at the end because of his free throw shooting. I could also see him getting more minutes than Tyrese Maxey at the beginning of the year.
- While I think Cal will experiment with a 3 guard lineup or small ball in general, I think, but Nick Richards will start at the 5. Nick has failed to live up to his potential before, but I’m really liking what I’m seeing from him in this game.
- As far as the starting lineup, I think Cal is going to want to start with two bigs, so it’s gonna be Nick and EJ, along with Ashton and Tyrese. The question is going to be who starts at the 3. I like Immanuel for shooting. But I could see Juzang, Brooks or Whitney in that spot as well. Who will Cal put there? I guess he will go with Whitney.
- I think your shooters on this team are Maxey, Quickley, Juzang and Sestina. I would, as much as possible, keep at least two shooters on the floor at all times. If you start Nick and EJ, you need Quickley or Juzang to go with Hagans and Maxey. If you get Sestina on the floor as one of the two bigs, you get Brooks or Whitney or both on the floor with two of the three lead guards. I’m really excited to see the shooting lineup – Maxey, Quickley, Juzang, Sestina, and Montgomery.
- Both the Blue and the White squads played zone defense for a chunk of the second half. The defense wasn’t great, but I like the fact that Cal was willing to do it, because he’s not a fan of playing zone. Seems like teaching the zone defense at this point helps the offense practice against a zone, which this team will see a lot of.
- Coming soon: I’m going to do my preseason Top 25. I’m going to have a special contributor on my weekly Top 25 this season. My son, MadZee will be sending me his Top 25 so we can compare and contrast who has the better handle on the state of college basketball this year. He’s a Sports Management major at the University of Tennessee and he’s pretty well informed on most things sports.
- Youth Sports Alert: I’m helping out a friend with coaching a team of 5th and 6th graders this year. I haven’t really dipped my toe into coaching since I was coaching MadZee in youth basketball. It’s gonna fill up my schedule and I apologize to MadDoc in advance for the many nights of practices and games to come.