Hard to believe: It doesn’t quite feel like real life, but it is. The NCAA defending champion Kentucky Wildcats will be in Moon township tonight for the first round of the NIT tournament.
“I think it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere. I think its going to be as big a crowd as we’ve had here in my six years,” said head coach Andy Toole. “I think it’s going to be loud and I think
Kentucky is going to be use to it,
“It’s just now really hitting me,” said senior point guard Velton Jones. “I got the phone call from Russ (Russell Johnson) and he was like ‘we’re playing
and I was like ‘oh that’s cool’ and he was like ‘we’re playing them here’. I
didn’t believe him. It’s unreal.”
Guard Lucky Jones also added he was impressed the game was sold out within two hours.
“I’m very happy it’s here and I’m happy fans are coming out and supporting us.”
Matching up: Half the guys on
could probably start for the Sacramento Kings. This is a big, athletic team
that will be hard to gameplan for.
“They’re so physically gifted. I think that’s the biggest thing. Their talent level and their physical abilities are extraordinary,” said Toole. “And that’s something we’re going to have to try and neutralize with multiple bodies or great positioning or great fundamentals or different things like that.”
KU will likely trot out a starting five that looks like the following:
PG Ryan Harrows- sophomore
SG Julius Mays- senior
SF Archie Goodwin- freshman
PF Alex Poythress- freshman
|Russel Johnson will have his hands full guarding|
Alex Poythress. (p/c: Justin Berl)
C Wille Cauley-Stein- freshman
Cauley-Stein has had the difficult task of trying to replace superstar freshman (and NBA lottery pick) Nerlens Noel at center but has done a good job finding his role. Poythress is an unbelievably efficient stretch-forward who shot 58 percent from the field and 43 percent from three on the year while grabbing six rebounds a game. Archie Goodwin is a poor-mans Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; a tough defender and great at getting to the rim. Goodwin leads the team in scoring.
So what does RMU do? They’re going to be undersized and won’t have nearly the same athleticism. On defense, I’d expect to see more 2-3 zone than usual. KY is a 34 percent team from downtown (not bad, but by comparison Robert Morris is at 38 percent) and could prevent from
Kentucky getting to the
rim. Also, I’m not sure RMU can lock down on man defense against a much more
athletic Wildcat team and it should help with rebounding.
Don’t expect much change from the offense. RMU definitely has an edge in pure jup shooters when you look at guys like Karvel Anderson, Coron Williams, and Lucky Jones. I’d expect those three to have a lot of screens run off for them and for RMU to fire up the three ball 30-40 times.
Other odds and ends: Velton Jones will hope to look past a 2-for-17 shooting day last Saturday, but did not participate in practice Monday with a shoulder injury… Karvel Anderson (wrist) was limited and Anthony Myers-Pate had his shoulder wrapped but did not appear to be in much pain… Both coach Toole and Lucky Jones hesitated on whether they’d rather play this game or would be in the NCAA tournament but both said the tournament: “If you’re looking for a consolation prize, this is probably about as good as it gets,” said Toole… This will be the last home game for the Colonials this season… Tickets have been sold out as of 11:20 this morning but you can find tickets on craigslist for nearly around $100.