The first half against North Carolina is what Kentucky basketball is all about. It was the most exciting twenty minute stretch of play for the Wildcats in at least two years. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a UK team play like that I almost forgot what it felt like. The massive 28-2 run was sparked by an absolutely sick dunk by John Wall that should be number one on Sportcenter’s Top Ten for the weekend. After the dunk Wall made two other unbelievable plays: a reverse under-the-basket, falling-out-of bounds layup, and an alley oop to Patrick Patterson on a fast break. It was great to watch, and against Roy Williams and North Carolina, almost too good to be true. Williams compared Wall to Jason Kidd, certainly a flattering comparison, but I think Wall might have even more speed than Kidd in his college prime.
The second half, of course, was a different story, and even Williams stated that when Wall went out for about a 7-8 minute stretch, it allowed Carolina to get back in the game. Sure, it would have been nice to come away with a double-digit victory, but a win is a win is a win. Even if Wall hadn’t cramped up, North Carolina is too good a team with a veteran coach who knows how to make adjustments; it would have been hard for the Cats to roll over the Heels by 20, even at Rupp.
All the talk has been about Wall, but what can you say about Patrick Patterson that hasn’t already been said before? I didn’t even realize he had a game high nineteen points until the end of the game. Daniel Orton certainly has room to improve but he does something that impresses me every game–this time it was two clutch blocks on shots that would have given Carolina some momentum. I listened to the post-game radio show on the way home, and Calipari said when Orton entered the game in the first-half, his intensity changed the way the entire team played; it was infectious. Points are nice (and needed to win), but if I’m player, I’m not sure my coach could pay me a higher compliment. Bledsoe indeed scares me when he has the ball, but he was 5-6 from the free throw line (including some clutch ones at the end), and Calipari said at the end of the game Bledsoe told the coach to put him in (and Calipari did); he may be out of control but he’s got a will to win. Speaking of Dodson, he and Darius Miller made a few threes during the first-half run that only served to amp up the excitement that was unfolding on our flatscreens.
As the season goes on, I love Calipari more. He could have Hitler eating out of his hands. I think it was on the post-game show that he told the fans not to say we should have won by twenty because we don’t know as much about the game as we think we do–I admit to thinking that at one point, but I know he’s right. The funniest thing I heard Calipari say on the post-game show: the reason it took John Wall so long when he went back to the locker room is because they had to give him at IV; but Wall is scared of needles so they had to go in the stands and find his mother to come tell him everything was going to be alright. Nice.
It’s going to be fun seeing all the cheesy “Wall” headlines sportswriters come up with this season.