On a day where we celebrate the 41st birthday of a man who made the rap game color blind by proving that white people can throw away their fortune and be intimidated by Suge Knight too, it’s with much sadness that I have to bring you the news that Matt Jones is having internet complications since switching to a new service provider only affordable by people affected by the Barack Obama tax increase. It serves that cake eater right, I guess, but that means you’re stuck with me and you’re going to have to wait until noon to get your full recap of the open practice yesterday. However, his super-exclusive phone plan came through and he gave me a couple of teasers to pass along to you in the mean time:
(1) In speaking with him, he emphasized again what he mentioned earlier about the intensity of Coach Gillispie’s practice. He said that he’s seen practices at Duke under Coach K and here under Orlando Smith and that neither were even remotely close to what Gillispie was running on Thursday. While Matt stopped short of saying Gillispie’s practices made Kzrzlkjdalkdgsi and Tubby look like they were a couple of dainty ladies hosting a tea party, I certainly sensed through his tone that he was thinking it. I also sensed that he was thinking that Gillispie’s presence and fire from the sideline likely means that Dr. Pepper will be added to the banned substance list.
(2) Matt also stressed that it was abundantly clear that the first unit of Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson, Darius Miller, Michael Porter and Jodie Meekswas clearly the “A” squad and was treated as “the” unit on the court. Patterson, Meeks and Stevenson aren’t really much of a surprise, but this further confirms what we’ve been hearing all summer that Michael Porter and his new-found Schwarzenegger body have taken control at the point position. Perhaps he’s also a Pepper.
(3) Also, Miller’s presence in this starting unit is a bit of a surprise considering negative reports from open gyms throughout the summer about him looking lost and not being much of a contributor. But, this does lend some credence to what was said here about Miller being the type of player benefiting from the structure of an organized game rather than pickup ball. Matt said that Miller looked like he belonged with this group and was very comfortable with the unit, which has to be a MAJOR positive for the team right now. They must get some serious contributions from the newcomers in order to not only make up for the loss of Bradley and Crawford, but to also improve on last year’s final record. We’ll see what happens when Ramon Harris and his legendary offensive improvement returns from injury.
(4) Conversely, Matt said that Matt Pilgrim looked a bit lost and didn’t score a single basket while working with the third unit. It’s possible that the beast of the summer is the bizarro Miller – a player who plays better in a pickup game – but it’s just as possible that he’s still grasping the new playing style and playing with a group featuring three newcomers and a guy who was used little last year (A.J. Stewart) didn’t give him a lot to work with. Without a doubt, one practice does not make a career, so let’s hope that it was an off day for the man coming straight outta Hampton and not a sign that he’s the next Antwain Barbour or Josh Carrier.
(5) Had it not been for the open practice, the big news would have been yet another ruling by the NABC aimed at Coach Clyde and the Cats. The NCAA made an “emergency ruling” that teams can no longer hold their Midnight Madness celebrations prior to the selected date. It’s a ruling that we pretty much expected to come, but the fact that they made it an “emergency” decision after everyone has already held their season-opening ceremonies does lend itself to being considered a bit ridiculous. This obviously means no more early practices for Gillispie and his boys, but Coach should definitely take that as a notch on his belt. If he was in the blogger contest, I’d pass him onto the next round based on his creativity alone. The bad news? You can expect a Jeff Goodman column in 5…4…3…2…1…
(6) As far as the football Cats go, they got a lot of very good news on the injury front on Thursday. When they take on Mississippi State Saturday (which is “National College Football Day”), they will have Justin Jeffries, Micah Johnson, Marcus McClinton, Myron Pryor and Maurice Grinter available to them. While having all of the defensive guys available is a major plus for the Cats, the availability of Jeffries might be a bigger story. He’s expected to make the start, meaning that UK will have its entire starting lineup healthy and playing together for only the third time and the first time since Jeffries was hurt in the beginning of the WKU game. With a new QB and RB, an improvement in a healthy line could be just what the doctor ordered.
Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day for a whole lot of goodness including Matt’s full practice wrap-up at noon, a Know Your Enemy and the second part of the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” quarterfinals. It’s going to be a good day in these parts, folks. Make sure you’re a part of it.