The Silver Lining of a Two Team State

Photo by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer Julius Randle got a rebound and ran down the floor against Transy.

Photo by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer
Julius Randle got a rebound and ran down the floor against Transy.

MATT JONES: Both Kentucky and Louisville have played their first exhibition games, and I think both teams showed some positive and some negatives. In Kentucky’s case, they came out sluggish against Transylvania and showed that they are going to be young. They are going to have some games when they are not totally into it. They didn’t play great defense early. My biggest take away is that they are going to need Andrew Harrison to be healthy throughout the year.

TONY VANETTI: The Kentucky basketball game for me on Friday was like when I watched Silver Linings Playbook for the first time. My expectations were so high. I don’t know what kind of performance I expected from Jennifer Lawrence as an Oscar-winning actress, but I was expecting the greatest display of basketball in the history of man and I just didn’t get that after the 40 minutes of basketball against Transylvania.

JONES: What is wrong with Silver Linings Playbook? The scene where they are dancing to Bob Dylan and Jonny Cash is one of the greatest scenes in the movie. Just because you have problems with Silver Linings, don’t turn it on Kentucky. Because like Jennifer Lawrence, Calipari is a shining star for our nation and is a national treasure. I think we are going to see this team continue to improve.

VANETTI: I think this Kentucky team is like Jennifer Lawrence pre-Hunger Games. I think she is very talented, but had a ways to go before she won an Oscar. I think this Kentucky team has seen a lot of success early, but has a long way to go. Seems like they have some more pieces of the puzzle to implement before they can start rolling people.

JONES: Derek Willis played very well, which I don’t think people really saw coming, and Julius Randle is going to be an absolute super star. Now Louisville, similar to Julia Roberts, had some success but is starting to show their age. Their big exhibition story is all of the fouls that were called. What I’m really impressed with is how good Chris Jones is. What I’m not impressed with is how poor their big men are. Do you think the team can get to where it needs to be without improving the big guys down low?

VANETTI: Chane Behanan has to come back to contend for a title or to even get to Dallas. I think this is Rick’s best shooting team he’s had since 2006. I agree with you, there is a depth problem if they don’t get Chane back. Mangok has to play as many minutes as possible. I wish he would start and play him so that when March gets here, he’ll play like a sophomore, not a redshirt freshman.

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune Mangok Mathiang dunked against Kentucky Wesleyan.

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune
Mangok Mathiang dunked against Kentucky Wesleyan.

JONES: I love when you say Mangok because I feel like you’re talking about the SNL character. I know it makes you happy to just say Mangok and didn’t you dress up like him for Halloween? My biggest worry for Kentucky, when they match up with Louisville, is exactly what you said.  The three point shooting is going to be a real strength.  One of the things Peyton Siva did really well, and Russ Smith still does well, is getting to the back.  I think for Louisville to be as good as they want to be, they are going to need to attack the glass and not settle into a 3-point shooting team. This is going to be a year when attacking the glass is going to be rewarded by the referee.

VANETTI: Yeah, it’s quickness versus brute strength for Louisville versus Kentucky.

JONES: Both, the quick and the brute teams, will be able to draw fouls. When Kentucky plays Louisville, the ninth and tenth men matter because both teams are going to foul the heck out of each other.

VANETTI: It’s going to be fun to watch. Now, you guys in football thought maybe Missouri was a close to winnable game when the season started. Now, boy, the schedule got tougher because Mizzou is good.

JONES: I don’t think they are as good as everybody else does. Some people will say, they just smoked Tennessee and that’s correct. And they should have beaten South Carolina and should be undefeated and that’s also correct. But I look at their roster and outside of the defensive line where they have three legit NFL prospects and quarterback, I’m not sure why they are so good. I don’t know if the coach there is a genius but I think Kentucky has a shot to pull a shocker. I don’t like that the game is at noon, I wish it was at night to get some of the magic.  If this game stays close in the second half, the Cats have a chance.

VANETTI: I agree with you, they should outlaw noon kicks for college football; leave that for the grade schools around town to play at noon on a Saturday. It is ridiculous to think you’re going to get major college football played at noon. Move it to the night. Of course, it’s dictated by television. Louisville, on the other hand, will probably beat the UConn team the night before at 7:30 p.m. UConn is terrible and Louisville had the week off.

JONES: The good thing about Louisville is, it doesn’t matter what day of the week or time of the day, they could be playing. It could be 4 a.m. on Tuesday and Louisville will kick off. Anytime, any place, any network. Coming up soon, it will be Louisville versus Houston on TDG right after the Belmont race.

VANETTI: Yes, and there will be more people watching that game than your noon kick on Saturday against Mizzou.

JONES: Oh, we are beating Missouri and you know it. It’s going to be 3 o’clock and you’re going to switch over and see that things are happening in Commonwealth.