The fact that we aren't watching the product of Kentucky Basketball that we got dragged through during last season is enough for me. Fans are back in their seats, this roster has so much potential, and there is a buzz around this team that has success written all over it.
While it's just an exhibition game against a Division II opponent, a scrimmage-game you're suppose to look good in, I'm here to tell you that you CAN be excited about what you just watched. Of course, take it with a grain of salt, don't go yelling "National Championship bound" across your living room because it IS too early for all of that. We have a long season ahead, against actual talent, and we barely even know our starting five.
TyTy Washington and Keion Brooks lead all Kentucky players with 18 points each, followed behind with Davion Mintz’ 12. Oscar Tshiebwe finished with a double-double (11/10). Ten different Cats scored, five in double figures.
My three biggest takeaways from this teams first 40 minutes of action:
This Team Can Score:
It's a great feeling to already know that this team can be very productive on the court. The ability to have many options at any given time to score the ball, and to not have to rely on just 2-3 main guys is great. This team will wear out defenses from all over and the moments that they get hot and go on a run - someone go ahead and pray for the opposing team. Five Wildcats scored in double-figures tonight (Washington, Brooks, Mintz, Tshiebwe and Wheeler), with all ten players scoring at some point. Three players went for 12 or more. The team collectively shot 54% from the field, and 38% from behind the arc, making 11 three pointers. We finally have 'shot makers' and not just "shot takers" as Cal always likes to call his teams.
The Roster Is DEEP:
I'd be lying if I said I didn't get platoon vibes this evening. I know that John Calipari killed off that option after the 2015 season, and said he'd never bring it back - which he won't - but the way he made his substitutions bringing in multiple players at a time, getting all ten guys in within the first 7 minutes of the game, all excites me. Tonight was a night to put it all out there, evaluate what your team looks like against someone other than your own teammates, but I still feel he'll continue this method for multiple games, if not all, throughout the season. There are too many options for him not too. Sticking to a first five group seems hard enough. I would note, that Bryce Hopkins and Davion Mintz were the first two off the bench tonight.
These Guys Will Be Stars... Write It Down:
TyTy Washington, Oscar Tshiebwe are about the most secure picks to be something special this season for Kentucky, and in all of college basketball. The point-center duo will be a force to reckon with by any team they play this season, and will be on every single scouting report. TyTy ran through the stat sheet tonight with 18 total points, with 13 of them coming in the second half. Oscar managed to get into double figures in two categories, points (11) and rebounds (10), finishing with a double-double. The two things we expected from the two players we expected it out of. Going forward, these two will be the first five out, and the last five in during big-time moments. Two players you can count on every night and to lead this team to 30+ wins.
Kentucky will play its second exhibition next Friday versus Miles College, then will play their first official game of the season against Duke in the Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden) on November 9th.
Highlights for your enjoyment below.