Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road To Houston: Kentucky

The 2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats were one of the most talented team college basketball has ever seen. John Wall was the point guard, Eric Bledsoe, Demarcus Cousins, and Pattrick Patterson. But, they lacked some chemistry. They were ousted in the Elite Eight by West Virginia. This year's Kentucky team is similar to last year's team. A fantastic point guard, a quality big man in Terrence Jones, and a solid lineup in the 2, 3, and 4 spots. But, this Wildcats team has an opportunity to do what last year's team did not. Win a National Championship.
Coach Callapari has been to three Final Fours.(2 of which were vacated) and has never won a title. The Wildcats 2011 campaign got a off to a rough start. But, that was to be expected due to the fact this is a bunch of freshmen who had never played with each other. In Mauii, they took out #11 Washington, but lost to UConn in the final. The Wildcats then posted 7 straight wins, including wins against Notre Dame and Louisville.  The Cats struggled in SEC play. They lost 6 games, but still earned the #2 seed as they finished 10-6 in conference. They did end the season on a 6 game winning streak, which included 3 games in the SEC tournament. UK beat Florida in the championship game, 70-54. The winning streak is now up to 10.  The Cats narrowly escaped Princeton, thanks to a big time shot from Brandon Knight. The beat West Virginia by 8. They then defeated the #1 overall seed, Ohio State, thanks to another big shot from Brandon Knight in the closing seconds. And finally, Kentucky beat UNC by 7 to reach the Final Four.

Kentucky has relied on the play of its 3 terrific Freshmen; Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb, who has been battling injuries. But, another key player has arisen. Big man John Harellson. Who, earlier in the season, tweeted in frustration about his lack of playing time. Coach Cal was close to kicking him off the team, but gave him a 2nd chance. Harellson has taken full advantage of his opportunity. He has had double-digit scoring in every game of The NCAA Tournament, and has had two 10+ rebound games. This 2nd meeting between UConn and Kentucky will be much more competitive then the 17 point shellacking UConn handed them last time.(The game was not as close as the score indicated). The matchup to watch will be Brandon Knight going up against Kemba Walker. The matchup that will ultimately determine the outcome of the game will be John Harrelson and Alex Oriakhi. The game will be close, and which ever roll player has a better game will determine the outcome.-Josh Neighbors

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