Cat Attack 10-14-09

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Camp Cal

By Brian Melton

 Last Wednesday night a tent revival broke out in Lexington. No, I’m not talking about a local church event, but rather “Camp Cal” or if that is not team oriented enough for you “Cat Camp.” The line of those waiting for tickets to this year’s Big Blue Madness began forming in earnest on Wednesday and by the time tickets actually were distributed on Saturday morning there were over 400 tents encircling Memorial Coliseum. Tickets for the chance to be one of the first people to see this year’s Cats were gone in just over an hour at Memorial and if you tried to get lucky with Ticketmaster, your first chance was your only one as tickets were gone in seconds. 

It’s truly amazing to consider the number of people who camped out for days, JUST TO GET A TICKET VOUCHER!!! In my high school days a group of friends and I spent a night in the rain in tents outside Memorial, so I’m not one that should judge. But at least in those days your place in line determined how close to the floor you got to sit. Of course, we did not have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the players and coaches like the folks this year. Almost all of the players and even Coach Calipari himself spent a lot of time interacting with the fans playing corn hole, pickup basketball games, and signing tons of autographs. The team even brought McDonalds breakfast to the campers and Papa John’s pizza as well. Although the pictures of the tents surrounding Memorial Coliseum were impressive, the best picture I saw of the whole event was one with Patrick Patterson standing inside a fan’s tent waking them up to offer breakfast. Can you imagine looking up to see one of your favorite Wildcats in your tent offering you a sausage biscuit? How awesome. That’s what makes Kentucky Basketball truly the most unique program in America. 

Ok, now for the preview of those players we are anxious to meet that I promised you. Calipari took the reins of the program on April 1st and promptly brought together only the number one recruiting class in America in about a month. This group of newcomers definitely is the most talented group that has joined the program in a long time and is even garnering some comparisons to the Michigan “Fab Five” of the early '90s. Hopefully this group can match their success of a Final Four run this season. 

  Those We Are Anxious to Meet

1.     Jon Hood: One of only three Cats from our fine state and the reigning Mr. Basketball. Hood is known to have a “high basketball IQ,” whatever that really means, along with a good midrange game. There is a lot of talented guards on this team and for Hood to spend much time on the court he will have to be able to knock down the outside shot.

  1. Darnell Dodson: Former Cat Ramel Bradley’s identical twin and former Pitt Panther signee, Dodson was brought in to be the shooter to replace Jodie Meeks. Reports from the summer and from early workouts are that he is by far the best three-point shooter on the team and has the ability to get hot from outside and score in bunches. 
  2. Daniel Orton: One of the two Gillespie recruits that chose to stick with Kentucky after the coaching change, Orton is a imposing inside presence. Orton spent the summer in California with Patterson working out and will be counted on to block a lot of shots and rebound the basketball. Orton is said to have surprisingly good range on his shot for a player his size.
  3. Eric Bledsoe: A very strong guard who will excel in getting his teammates involved in the offense. Bledsoe is lightning quick and the battles between John Wall and he in games this summer are already legendary. It will be interesting to see how Calipari utilizes Bledsoe. He has talked openly about playing both he and Wall at the same time, which would give the Cats quite an explosive guard tandem that Kentucky has sorely missed in recent years. 
  4. DeMarcus Cousins: “Big Cuz” as he wants to be known, is a talented big man from Alabama that possesses the ability to play all areas of the floor. At 6’11,” the McDonalds’ All American is able to dominate inside and yet is a capable shooter from anywhere on the court. Cousins is quickly becoming a fan favorite and seems to relish his new found fame here in Kentucky. He is expected to start alongside Patterson and will team up with Orton as well to form one large front line.
  5. John Wall: I know most of you have never heard of John Wall, but he is just the best player to enter college basketball in some time. Gary Parrish, CBS Sports.com’s college basketball expert, has even gone as far as to pick Wall as his Preseason National Player of the Year. Wall will be expected to lead this team from day one and his ability to run the team on the court will go a long way in determining its success. Luckily he has all the physical abilities that anyone could want and with the talent around him should be able to do just that.
  6. So that’s it. Now that we’ve met all the players that will make up our favorite team for this season we can officially begin the countdown to Big Blue Madness. It is just over a week away and I CAN’T WAIT!!! I’ll give you the rundown of everything that happens at the event and give you my opinion on who and what impressed me most. Until then, GO CATS!