As many of us were celebrating Blue's most recent victory over White in the annual intra-scrimmage, the Associated Press was taking notes and compiling a short recap
for those across the country who missed it. What did they come up with? Only that the team full of freshmen did work to justify their lofty preseason ranking:
There were many moments during Wednesday night's Blue-White scrimmage where Kentucky's freshmen justified the lofty expectations placed upon them.
Archie Goodwin showed some flash while scoring a game-high 32 points. Willie Cauley-Stein was a formidable post presence with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Swingman Alex Poythress added 25 points with quickness and athleticism.
A sore back slowed highly touted forward Nerlens Noel, but the point was seeing how this foursome played together and with others in their first competitive appearance before the Wildcats faithful. Early returns were encouraging, as they contributed to both teams in a game won by the Blue 89-88.
They also took note of some of the more interesting, and less touted, pairings that this team has to offer. Everybody knew that Archie and Alex would be dynamite together, but did you expect to see such teamwork from Julius Mays and Willie Cauley-Stein?
At the same time, some nice combinations emerged thanks to newcomers such as transfer Julius Mays, a graduate student who played last season for Wright State.
He seemed to find chemistry with Cauley-Stein, who fed him for one shot before Mays returned the favor by lobbing a pass to the 7-footer for a dunk to help the Blue team lead 29-17.
What we learned about this team is that maybe the star power isn't as strong at the top
; we probably won't have the #1 and #2 pick again this year. But, unlike last year's team, which went about six to seven deep, there are several guys on this team that can come off the bench and make significant contributions, fill roles, and create offense when the starters are stalling. None is proof of that more than WCS, who probably won't even be a 6th man at this point, with the way he's playing. A guy tabbed as a reserve for Noel has stepped up and demanded playing time with the way he's playing, and there are several guys on this team who could do the same thing.
As the article notes, though, the group as a whole has some ground to make up:
However, the bottom line is meeting John Calipari's high standards, and the Wildcats coach quickly noted that this is a work in progress.
"We have a way to go," Calipari said afterward. "We don't rebound, we don't scramble. Other than that, we're a pretty good team."
Pretty good? Sure. Deep and balanced, with room for exceptional improvement? Absolutely.