“When poet Maya Angelou, a professor at Odom’s school, spoke of “A Rock, A River, A Tree” at President Clinton’s inauguration in January, she might have taken as inspiration for the rock and the tree 6’7″, 235-pound Wake Forest forward Rodney Rogers. But at the South-cast Regional in Charlotte, N.C., the Demon Deacons’ boulder-redwood and his mates were swept away 103-69 by a raging river of Wildcats. Kentucky’s torrent of pressure defense and three-point shooting then drowned Florida State 106-81. The best way to quantify the Wildcats’ erosive power is to mull-this over: Ten minutes into its game with Kentucky, Wake Forest was shooting 86% from the field—and trailed by 22. Why? The Deacons had been able to launch only seven shots. Consider, too, that the Wildcats bottomed out their first eight three-point attempts, with Jamal Mashburn tossing in all five of his. In the two games in Charlotte, nine different Wildcats knocked down at least one three-pointer.”
– I never guarantee victories, but I really don’t buy into all the “Cornell is a tough matchup for Kentucky” talk. I got a chance to talk to a few of my friends from back home today and the consensus seems to be that unless Kentucky plays their worst game of the season it’s time to start worrying about West Virginia. Cornell can shoot, yes. And they didn’t get as far as they’ve had by being a shitty team, but there’s such a gap in talent between these squads that you’ve got to believe that if Kentucky brings even their C game tomorrow night, Cornell’s going to have to shoot out of their minds to have a chance. Player for player, position for position, Kentucky out-mans Cornell with plenty of room to spare.
– As for the Mountaineers, the potential Elite Eight matchup with them still looms. They’ll be going against a suddenly-overachieving Washington Huskies squad that’s surprised a lot of people with their play in the tournament so far. Truck Bryant, WV’s starting point guard broke his foot yesterday in practice so Washington and potentially Kentucky (or Cornell — stranger things have happened) will have the added advantage of going against the Mountaineers without their floor general. This isn’t the equivalent of Kentucky losing John Wall or Washington losing Isaiah Thomas by any stretch, but it will slow WV down a bit and make their (potential) matchup with Kentucky even more of an uphill fight.
– Kentucky picked up another nice recruit yesterday in Enes Kanter, a kid who’s been playing his American prep ball half an hour from me this whole season and I didn’t even know it. Kanter grew up in Turkey but despite his European roots, is said to play a more traditional, Americanized style in the post. This disappoints me a little bit, actually. Ever since Kentucky missed out on Dirk Nowitzki, I’ve always wanted to see a big, lanky, European big man knocking down threes and playing zero defense for the Blue and White. Kanter sounds like a more offensively adept Daniel Orton.
– Speaking of Orton, he’s the latest Cat rumored to be going pro at the end of this season. Wall, Cousins, and Patterson should all go, absolutely. But Bledsoe and Orton? I’m not as sure. The argument for Bledsoe is that this year’s point guard class is weak and that if he doesn’t leave now, he’ll be costing himself a lot of money by going later in next year’s draft. First off, I’m not totally sold on the idea of Bledsoe being a lottery pick. Is there a person on this earth who has seen him play this year and thinks he’s ready to be a starting point guard (which, if he’s taken in the lottery, you’ve got to think he will be) in the NBA next season? I sure don’t. He’s turnover prone, and I’m not sure there’s a basketball player alive more in need of a pull up jumper. The kid either shoots open threes, goes to the rim, or turns it over trying. His stock his high at the moment because of the way he’s played in his last few games, but I expect that once NBA guys start breaking down his game on film, they’ll see that it has some glaring weaknesses.
As for Orton, I was blown away when I heard he’s a potential first round pick. I was even more blown away when I heard that one of his strengths was “not being afraid to mix it up.” I’ve said this before, but Orton, at this point, might be the most soft-spoken, borderline-timid guy on the team. On top of that, his offensive game could use another year of work, seeing how it doesn’t exist right now.
– And to end on a note of excitement, I don’t want to make any guarantees, but the IT staff here is working hard to get us everything we need to have a functional podcast up and running soon. I know what you’re thinking, hell of a time to start, but we figure better late than never. Ideally, I’d like to have one by this weekend, but we’ll just have to wait and see.