Ira D. Combs Syndicated Columnist
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
We have arrived at the juncture in this year's schedule where the bright lights of college basketball shine on Lexington, Kentucky and once again (after a near four year drought) UK's most visible and nationally recognized sports team takes center stage across the nation to show off its new era of hoops and showcase its new mentor, John Calipari, in charge of restoring its long and lustrous basketball tradition.
Coach Cal, this is your first prime time match up, please do us well and make us proud and set the tone for the rest of 2009-10. Because after last Saturday night we all need a good dose of what it really feels like to be on top.
With November's preseason exhibition season, several low major buyout games, and the annual pre-Christmas tourney trip all in the books now and the Wildcat's record standing at a perfect 7-0 it's time to see if the Cats belong in the Top 10. We know the talent is there and we know Coach Cal will have the team ready for March Madness later in the year but are they ready for a seasoned Top 20 program like North Carolina at this time?
It will help that the game is taking place at the friendly confines of Rupp Arena.
Match ups are always a key in any game but UK's highly recognized inside game will not necessarily be the usual advantage it was in the November games. DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton will be more than accounted for by the Tar Heels' talented trio of post players in 7'0" sophomore, Tyler Zeller, and 6'10" twins, David and Travis Wear, while Patrick Patterson will have a battle like he hasn't seen yet this year from 6'9" Sr., Deon Thompson, and 6' 10", sophomore Ed Davis, over on the wing 6' 5" senior, Marcus Ginyard, one of the four holdovers from the national championship team of last year will be a real test for Darius Miller and hopefully Darnell Dodson if he's worked his way out of Calipari's doghouse.
If the Cats have an advantage anywhere on the court Saturday it will be in the back court where the multi-talented freshman point guard, John Wall, will roam but this is his first prime-time event and the jury is still out on how he will react in this setting. Truth be known, Calipari's biggest concern for this game is the quality of minutes he will get out of freshman, Eric Bledsoe. The minutes to date from Bledsoe have been dotted with turnovers and forcing the ball into areas that clog up the dribble drive offense which offset the few shooting performances he has to date.
There are many scenarios you can paint for this game to see where the Cats stand at this juncture in the season but we simply just have to throw the ball up at center court at 12:30 Saturday and let it play out to see where the team is at in the development process.
It will all unfold at the actual tip-off around 12:37 EST with the CBS cameras rolling worldwide. I can't wait, mainly because it's great to see true big time college hoops back in the Bluegrass where it belongs.
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