[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Photo: Chet White | UKAthletics.com
Kentucky's Blue-White game tips off tonight in Rupp Arena in front of a (hopefully) packed house full of rabid and hungry UK basketball fans. The Cats' annual intrasquad scrimmage is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip and will be carried live on your television sets by the SEC Network.
For everyone watching at home or in person, here are 10 things to look for in the Cat-on-Cat basketball action...
1. Outside shooting.
One of the major concerns entering this season, at least according to the internet, is the team's outside shooting. They're already being compared to the 2009-10 team that was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament due to a lack of a three-point threat, with some saying De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk will be John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, in the fact they're insanely athletic but can't shoot.
After seeing Tuesday's practice, I'm not as concerned with the team's shooting, although one practice is a very small sample size. It'll be good to see how the guards shoot the ball in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena tonight.
2. Isaiah Briscoe's shooting.
Maybe more important than any one Wildcat's shooting is the improvement of Isaiah Briscoe's shot. That goes for his three-ball and foul shooting, which have both improved dramatically since last season, if we're to believe John Calipari.
Back in the offseason, Cal said, "He’s really improved his shooting. I think part of it is going to be if he has the ball a little bit more, he shoots it better probably off the bounce than he does catching it and shooting it because he’s not really played that way before, which probably affected him last year."
Cal also said, "He was so bad last year, if he shoots 30 percent and 67 percent from the foul line, he’s a lottery pick."
3. Malik Monk playing under control.
There's no doubt Malik Monk is a lethal offensive weapon that can be unstoppable at times; however, Calipari will have a hard time keeping him under control. Monk's decision-making and shot selection have been questioned, but he has been better since the team began practicing full-time earlier this month. Cal still jokes occasionally about some of Monk's mistakes, and he hopes they will be limited in game action.
So keep an eye on Monk and what he does with the ball once he gets it.
4. De'Aaron Fox running the show.
Poor De'Aaron Fox has been compared to John Wall ever since the day he committed to Kentucky, which is completely unfair to the freshman point guard. Let's leave those unreasonable expectations in the preseason hype and not actually look for them on the court tonight.
Pay closer attention to how Fox runs the show as Cal's new PG. How does he run the offense? Can he take it to the rim? Can he hit the open shot? Is he able to get it to Adebayo inside when Adebayo needs
it inside? Is he a leader?
We'll worry about whether or not he can eventually be John Wall some other time in the far distant future.
5. Isaac Humphries playing above the rim, if he plays at all.
Humphries missed several practices over the last two weeks with soreness in one of his knees, and it's unclear if he'll run with the team tonight. If he does, he has some new expectations to live up to as the story of the summer for his body transformation and newfound athleticism. To put it simply, Humphries needs to dunk, block and get up for rebounds. Let's see those new hops, Josh Harrellson 2.0.
6. Wenyen Gabriel's midrange jumper.
Calipari called Wenyen Gabriel one of the two hardest workers on the team, along with Briscoe, so hustle and effort aren't a problem for the freshman. What is a problem is his ability to put the ball in the basket.
At Tuesday's practice, Gabriel got several looks from 10 to 15 feet and most were bricks. When he did hit one, Calipari stopped practice to yell "WENYEN!" with his arms in the air.
Maybe he'll shoot the ball a little better tonight and eliminate any worries we may have for a little while.
7. Derek Willis active defensively.
Calipari also stopped Tuesday's practice to praise Derek Willis for his defense after Willis made a couple of deflections in an on-ball defensive drill. Willis' defense and rebounding will decide just how much he plays this season, and if those aspects of his game are there, he will be the vital fifth piece to a very good puzzle with the four guys who have already solidified their spots. Willis' play is critical to Kentucky's success.
8. Bam Adebayo versus Isaac Humphries/Sacha Killeya-Jones.
From what we've seen and heard so far, Bam Adebayo cannot be stopped. If he can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, he'll put up huge numbers in the paint this coming season. Have we mentioned he's a beast? Well, he's a beast. You'll have a hard time believing he's a freshman.
Watch Sacha Killeya-Jones try to hang with Adebayo tonight, and hopefully Humphries plays so we can see those two bang it out, too.
9. Backcourt match-ups.
Calipari will likely move guards around throughout the scrimmage to pit them against one another. My guess is he'll start with Fox and Monk versus Briscoe and Mulder/Hawkins, which has been the two backcourts in most practice scrimmages so far. Guard play will carry the team this season, so getting an early glance is exciting, albeit with the Big Three (Fox, Monk, Briscoe) separated for the scrimmage. We'll still get a taste of how good they are, on both ends of the floor. I may be more excited to see how they defend each other tonight because they're (reportedly) great defenders.
Lots of dunks. So many dunks.
7 p.m. tonight.