2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Preview
In 2008- 2009 after finishing fourth in the SEC East, the Kentucky Wildcats (22- 14 overall, 8- 8 SEC) went to the NIT where they were defeated by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 77- 67 in the quarterfinals. In 2005, the club made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. That same year, they were 14-2 in the conference and in 2008 the team went 12- 4 in the league. However, they were eliminated from the Big Dance in round one.
Last season, Kentucky led the SEC in numerous categories, including field goal percentage (.481), free throw percentage (.773) and rebound margin (plus-5.0). Their defense was decent too as they held opponents to 66.3 PPG (4th SEC). However, they were average on scoring, hitting for 74.1 PPG (7th). They hit threes at the rate of 35% (5th).
Six-foot-nine power forward Patrick Petterson (17.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.9 APG), a junior, returns with a new game. During the summer, he worked on his quickness and speed. The Wildcats are hoping he can hit from the perimeter this year. Two freshmen should be able to contribute immediately upfront: Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins. Both are NBA recruits of the future. Guard/forward Darius Miller (5.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.0 APG), a sophomore, looks ready to reach a new level after spring camp. There’s decent depth and experience coming off the bench.
In the backcourt, freshman John Wall should start at the point from day one. Eric Bledsoe, another frosh point man, is also said to be ready to contribute. He’ll need the experience as Wall is expected to be in the NBA after one year. The question mark for this team is at the shooting spot. Junior college transfer Darnell Dodson could get the nod.
This season, head coach John Calipari, who starts his first year at the helm of Kentucky’s basketball program, puts a team on the court with some experienced vets and some exceptional freshman talent. That bodes well for the Wildcats who have struggled for the last few seasons. There’s certainly buzz about a national title but the head coach is naturally cautious. The fact is this team could be tops in the SEC and that means they have a good chance of going deep into the tournament. A trip to the Elite Eight seems in order and the Final Four could certainly be on the agenda. If that happens, this Wildcat team could be a viable National Champion.