There will be plenty of chatter about Kentucky this season; in fact, there already has been. That will always be the case, as Kentucky will be relevant whether they win a national championship or have a losing record. Ever since several players decided to pass on early entry to the NBA Draft last spring, the hyperbole surrounding this team has been non-stop given the talent they have. And on Sunday, that was demonstrated even more.
Buffalo led Kentucky at halftime 38-33. The Bulls didn’t succumb to an early run, either, as Kentucky scored the first nine points of the second half only to see Buffalo rally to regain the lead. The Wildcats eventually won going away, but that’s not the big headline to take out of this game.
A lot of people are talking about how John Calipari didn’t go with a platoon in the second half. The talk is that he’s already abandoned it. The reality, of course, is a bit more complicated.
Game plans are what they are – game plans. They aren’t a formula, not to be deviated from. Coaching involves changing something on the fly in response to game conditions, and oftentimes matchups dictate a different lineup than in some other games because each opponent is different. As such, there’s no reason to make too much of what Calipari did in the second half. It doesn’t mean the Wildcats will permanently go with a shorter rotation.
Calipari even weighed in on Twitter after the game about it in a message to Wildcat fans recommending that they not get caught up in this and enjoy the ride: “I know how much you love to break down film, but let’s not get into comparing player to player, platoon to platoon, esp. after each game. We can’t get into that. We need to focus on building a team instead of creating clutter for individuals. Some games one guy is going to play well, in other games it will be someone else. That’s what makes this platoon system so great.”
We’re all trying to get a sense of each team early on. We try to look beyond the box score and beyond a single play to get a sense of what it all means. But in our quest to do just that, we can’t lose sight of the fact it’s one play or one game. We’ll get to see how this plays out again very quickly, as the Wildcats next play on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic against Kansas.
The Boston Garden was home to a tripleheader for the second year in a row in support of Coaches vs. Cancer. Northeastern beat Boston University 71-65 in the first game between two old rivals that were in the America East Conference for many years. UMass took over in the second half to beat Boston College 71-62 after trailing by eight at the half. The last game of the day was a mild upset as Holy Cross beat Harvard 58-57 in the best game of the three. More coverage of all three games is coming later, so stay tuned.
No other game on the day went down as a shocker, but Sam Houston gave UNLV all they could handle before succumbing 59-57 in a game that was part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith was cleared to play in Monday night’s game against Miami. The junior has a hairline fracture in his left (non-shooting) hand, and while there will be pain, he will play to the degree he can tolerate it.
Florida also announced that guard Dillon Graham will transfer at the end of this semester. The third-year sophomore has had a limited role thus far and is moving on.
Although there were a handful of good matchups to get the season going, they start to get really good this week and Monday is the beginning of it, including some early games that are part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon.
- Miami heads north to take on Florida.
- Louisiana Tech heads to Philadelphia to take on Temple in part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
- After knocking off Missouri to start the season, UMKC takes on Kansas State as part of the Maui Invitational.
- In the “sneaky good” category for matchups, Georgia State heads to Ames to take on Iowa State in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
- SMU travels to Gonzaga and Auburn heads to Colorado for a couple of good late matchups.