We're not even going to discuss last week. I'd like to think that last week was a nightmare that we have now awaken from. So let's get past all the player/coaching bashing (which is completely absurd by the way) and get straight into previewing this weeks match up with Alabama...
Tomorrow night is senior night signaling Kentucky's last home game of the season and a chance to show the seniors some appreciation. Cal mentioned in his press conference today, that Jarrod Polson and John Hood will both start as all seniors traditionally have in the past. To be honest, it will be a nice change of pace to see some fresh faces in the starting lineup for a change.
The Crimson Tide come into the game with a record of 12-17 (6-10 SEC) and having won their last game which was against Auburn by a score of 73-57. The Tide hasn't had the best of seasons, but then again, neither has most of the teams the Kentucky has lost to, so you can't base your prediction of this game on how Alabama has performed up until this point. You're better off letting the game play out and hope for the best.
Once again, here's some stats to get a little familiar with the Tide heading into tomorrow night...
I feel like I have written the exact same thing for every game this season, maybe that's because the same problems that plagued this team early in the year are still there. Anyway, Kentucky will have to take care of the ball because in their last two games they have a combined 28 turnovers with 18 of them coming against Arkansas. Alabama isn't a great three point shooting team, averaging 33% from deep, but since the game is in Rupp, you may as well count on them shooting the ball well from outside so perimeter defense will be a must.
Transition defense is something this team has more than struggled with this season, and is something they will need to drastically improve on if they want to have any hope in the post season not to mention the last two regular season games with one of those games being on the road at Florida. We witnessed Kentucky giving up entirely too many easy baskets over the last two games by simply not getting back on defense. At times, it was down right embarrassing to watch as far less talented players simply waltzed right up to the basket for an uncontested lay-up. That simply CANNOT continue to happen. I'm not a coach nor do I claim to be, but this teams fundamentals has been beyond dreadful and some of that falls at the feet of John Calipari and his staff. Some of it also has to fall at the feet of the players as well. You can coach and instruct as much as you can, but unless the players put forth the effort, nothing is going to change.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Junior guard Levi Randolph is averaging 23.3 ppg over his last three outings while shooting 60% (21-35) from the floor and a blistering 56.3% (9-16) from three point range.
- Senior guard Trevor Releford has averaged 21.1 ppg over his last seven games while shooting 53.3% from the floor and 44.4% from three point range. He has recorded double figures scoring in 30 straight games and 40 of his last 41 dating back to last season.
These are just two to keep an eye on, there are several other on the roster that pose potential problems for the Cats.
Tomorrow night will mark the 140th time Kentucky and Alabama has faced each other. Kentucky owns a 102-37 edge in the all-time series, including wins in seven of the last nine meetings. Alabama is 10-53 all-time against Kentucky in Lexington and owns a 6-21 mark in Rupp Arena. The Tide has lost four straight and 11 of the last 13 games when playing in Lexington. The time Alabama won in Rupp Arena was January 14, 2006 68-64. Last season Alabama came from behind to win 59-55 in Coleman Coliseum
Despite the performances we witnessed last week, I still have hope for this team. You can tell that the talent is there, the coaching is there, the only thing that is missing is effort on both sides. Players and coaches are going to have to get on the same page for this thing to come together in time. The coaches are going to have to change their approach as the current method clearly isn't working. The players are going to have to put egos and feelings aside and play AS A TEAM.
Will tomorrow night be the game where this team finds itself or will it be another one that's too hard to watch. I guess we'll find out tomorrow night...