2007 Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Preview
With a fourth place finish in the SEC East last year, the Kentucky Wildcats (22- 12 overall, 9- 7 SEC East) are looking to move up. Coach Tubby Smith left and coach Billy Gillispie (100- 58 overall in five years) was brought in to change things up. This season, the Kentucky faithful are hoping for a better finish in the conference and for the club to go deeper than the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Although the Wildcats could defend, they allowed 67.7 PPG (fourth in the SEC), they had a tough time holding onto the ball as they turned it over 14.5 times per game, ranking them ninth. Kentucky scored an average of 73.4 PPG, which was seventh in the SEC. The team’s .703 free throw grade ranked them in the top third of the league and one of our more successful college basketball picks.
The frontcourt is shaky due to the fact that the Wildcats lost star senior center Randolph Morris (16.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.1 BPG) to the Knicks. Look for Kentucky’s sophomores and freshmen to be asked to step-in and step-up. In his first season, Perry Stevenson (2.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 65.6 FG%) saw only 10 minutes per game but looked promising. Stevenson, now a sophomore, is adept at using his long arms to knock balls away. The question at center is can junior Jared Carter (0.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.0 FG%) stay off the DL? That’s where he was most of last season. Freshman forward Patrick Patterson, a MacDonald’s All- American, will get plenty of minutes in the frontcourt.
The guards are the foundation of this team. The Wildcats will play Joe Crawford (14.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 44.4 FG%), the club’s leading returning scorer and rebounder; Ramel Bradley (13.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 42.0 FG%), a tough competitor who can switch from point to shooting and Jodie Meeks (8.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 41.9 FG%), a sound point producer. In addition, sophomore Derrick Jasper (3.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 61.3 FG%) returns from knee surgery as the team’s most capable floor manager.
With a lack of depth upfront, the Wildcats may have a tough time doing much better than they did last season. New coach Gillispie will have to mentor his new and inexperienced guys quickly. Three guards may be the way to go with this club. The NCAA tournament is certainly in their future, but how deep will they go?