2008 Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Preview
Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats (18-13 overall, 12-4 SEC) did fine under first-year coach Billy Gillispie. The team was unsure with a new coach at the helm, but Gillispie proved to be a stabling influence despite seeing four players leave the team to go to other schools. Under Gillispie, the Wildcats finished second in the SEC East and went to the Big Dance where they lost in round one to Marquette 74-66.
Sophomore forward Patrick Patterson (35.7 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 57.4 FG%, 73.1 FT%), who had off-season surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle, is healthy and back. That’s good news as Patterson put in a fine frosh year, finishing ninth in the conference in scoring, seventh in rebounding and fifth in field goal percentage. Patterson will be aided this year by sophomore transfer Josh Harrellson who averaged 14.8 PPG last season at Southwestern Illinois College. Junior forward Perry Stevenson (24.4 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.9 APG, 57.5 FG%, 77.6 FT%), who has worked hard in the off-season, performed well when Patterson missed five games in 2007-2008. There’s also some depth on this squad.
With the loss of Ramal Bradley and Joe Crawford in the backcourt, the Wildcats see an average of 33.8 PPG disappear. The point is troublesome with junior Michael Porter (15.4 MPG, 2.0 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 30.6 FG%, 87.5 FT%) and two freshmen players being given the chance to battle for the starting spot. Junior guard Jodie Meeks (23.2 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 30.7 FG%, 79.4 FT%) and freshmen Darius Miller, who was Mr. Basketball in Kentucky as a high school senior, will be asked to score a lot of points from the wing.
Although Gillispie and company got off to a rough start, they earned
a very respectable 12-4 SEC mark. Duplicating that record won’t
be easy, but it is possible for the Wildcats to finish third or
second. Kentucky has been to the NCAA Tournament 17-straight years.
This season they should continue the string but don’t expect
them to go deep. A first round loss is likely.