Y'all know the drill by now. I asked y'all what you wanted to see from our team. Y'all responded. Let's take a look at how we did.
Let's start out with defense. Our rotations were not very good and we gave them a lot of open threes. Luckily, Albany did not capitalize on many of them, only making 7 of their 25 three point attempts. There's a reason we wanted to see this tonight, because perimeter defense has been one of our biggest struggles so far this season. It will remain a point of emphasis moving forward because tonight still left much to be desired.
Now to the offense. Today we saw our 4th different leading scorer in only 5 games. TyTy Washington joins Oscar Tshiebwe (2), Kellan Grady, and Keion Brooks to make up those 4 players. I think it is super important to see that the team is not dependent on the same players scoring every night, allowing for our team to be able to compete even when one of our top players has an off shooting night.
Keion once again was one of the top all around contributors to our team. After leading our team in scoring the game before, Keion followed up that performance with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a reduced 2 turnovers against Albany. He was also the team leader in +/- by putting up a +30 split in a 25 point victory.
Another game, another slow start for our Cats. Kentucky won by 25, but only narrowly lead 15-14 through the first 8 minutes of the game. Turnovers, defensive breakdowns, and forced shots have been a theme through the first 2 TV timeouts of the game so far this season. Against some of these easier teams, we have been able to overcome the slow starts. But against tougher teams, like Duke, we have seen that early deficits can be difficult to overcome.
Now to Kellan Grady.
It appears that the entire Big Blue Nation, myself included, wants to see the 2,000 career point scorer get going offensively. Grady was slightly more aggressive last night, taking 7 shots from the field, as well as 2 trips to the free throw line. I still found myself wanting him to shoot more, but today was a positive step in the right direction.
One of my bigger disappointments from the game came from Dontaie Allen. With Davion Mintz out with an illness, Allen had the opportunity to get serious playing time off of the bench and potentially play himself into a more consistent role within the rotation. However, he shot 0-5 from the field, all from 3, and struggled to keep up on defense. Allen's progression is really important to this team, especially as CJ Fredrick is out for the season. Having a shooter to come off the bench and space out the court can really open up some things for our entire offense and raise the potential for this team. I expect Dontaie to get more opportunities, and I also know Dontaie will be working his butt off the make sure he'll be ready the next time he gets an opportunity like this again.
I think Collins had another solid showing today. He shot 2 of 3 from the field (his only miss coming from a dunk where he attempted to end the defender's whole career) as well as making both of his free throw attempts in his lone trip to the line. He did get bullied a little bit in the paint on defense, but he also did a little bit of bullying back, finishing the game with 3 blocks. Fouls were once again a problem, ending the game just 1 away from fouling out. But as he continues to build strength and get more familiar with playing defense at the collegiate level, I expect his fouls and defensive mishaps to go down as his block totals continue to go up.