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Welcome back folks from that empty, something’s just missing from my life, period that we all know as the Kentucky Wildcat Basketball off-season. After trying to fill the void with the Cincinnati Reds, the Cincinnati Bengals, and even Kentucky football, the sunlight is finally on the horizon as Big Blue Madness is just over two weeks away. Luckily, not much has changed in Lexington since last season with head coach Billy Gillespie about to begin his third season as head coach. Just wanted to be sure you were following along. Think if that were true, I would have had to be committed.
Thankfully for all of Big Blue Nation pretty much everything has changed around our most beloved basketball team. Gone is the sleep inducing offensive style, the angry post game press conferences and the harassment of sideline reporters. Instead, we now have the Dribble Drive Motion offense, upbeat personality, and recruiting genius of John Calipari. The atmosphere of the program has completely changed and that dark cloud that seemed to linger over Rupp Arena the last few seasons has been replaced with an optimism that comes from an influx of talented players and a head coach that has a successful track record.
So to get you prepared for the upcoming season I thought it best to start our preview with the most important part of the team. No, not the dance team, although they are an important part of the festivities, but the actual players. With the coaching change came an enormous turnover in the roster. There are six newcomers that will join seven holdovers to complete this year’s edition of the Wildcats. We’ll look at the players in two groups. This week we’ll look at those we know, followed next week by those we are anxious to meet.
Those We Know
1. Patrick Patterson: Patterson returns to the Cats for his junior season as an All American Candidate. The man amongst boys will finally be surrounded by enough talent to get him to the Big Dance and hopefully his goal of the Final Four. He spent the summer in California working out with “Hell’s Trainer” and returned more ripped than that fine state’s governor in his prime. Patterson will need to be the leader of this team and should have an unbelievable season with a point guard who can actually pass him the ball.
2. Darius Miller: Personally, my favorite player from last year’s team returns from a summer in which he won a Gold medal with Team USA. Miller will probably benefit from the change in style more than any other player. Coach Calipari has repeatedly sung the praises of Darius since his arrival and his ability to hit that beautiful little runner in the lane will be useful. The team will need more consistency from his outside shot that was brilliant at times last season to be successful.
3. Perry Stevenson: The big preying mantis returns for his senior season and will likely see his playing time decrease. Stevenson will likely come off the bench to provide rebounding and the ability to run the court in a faster paced offense. His ability to block shots will also be useful at times this season.
4. Ramon Harris: Harris will be expected to come off the bench and be a defensive stopper against some of the opposition’s best scoring guards. Rumors from the summer have noted an improvement in his shot and ball handling skills.
5. Josh Harrellson: Honestly, I didn’t think we’d be talking about Harrellson being on this team at all. Josh managed to impress Calipari in workouts last spring and will provide the team with some outside shooting that will be sorely needed with the loss of Jodie Meeks.
6. DeAndre Liggins: Calipari recruited Liggins while at Memphis and still believes that he has something to add to the team. Honestly I’m not sure of the role he will play on this team. He showed bursts of great play last season. He will need to improve his decision making with the basketball if he intends to see much time on the court.
7. Mark Krebs: The senior from Newport, Kentucky was awarded the final scholarship for this year’s team after being a walk-on during the last two seasons. Calipari has recently stated that Krebs could see some playing time this season, again providing outside shooting for the team.
As I type this story Kentucky fans are lining up outside Memorial Coliseum in order to secure those very elusive Big Blue Madness tickets. Next week in preparation for the unveiling of this year’s team we’ll take a look at the new players that will be putting on the Kentucky Wildcats jersey for the first time on October 16th. Until then cheer on the Kentucky Football team against Alabama to warm up for what should be an unbelievable start to the basketball season.