In the finale of the fourth annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, we were treated to the coming out party for the rockstar Kentucky Wildcats. Despite bouts of sloppiness the game was fun to watch, and it's clear the Wildcats are the most talented team in college basketball, if not the best.
While Kansas stuck around for the first 20 minutes, they were clearly overmatched and this game wasn't really about them. Here's what I observed...
- Right now, Marquis Teague is like his brother, but much more of a liability. Talented, and probably a bit more explosive than Brandon Knight, Teague did little to create a favorable first impression. On the heels of six turnovers in the first half, Teague nailed a three-pointer early in the second half then appeared to feel absolved of all his previous mistakes by hooting, hollering, and dropping three-goggles. His brother Jeff was frequently criticized for his poor attitude while at Wake Forest, but his talents seemed to mask those issues. If Marquis becomes a liability on the court, he'll hear it off the court.
- Kentucky should be really thankful Terrence Jones stuck around. It feels weird calling a sophomore a seasoned veteran, but that's exactly what Jones will be for the Wildcats. Dropping 15 on 6-11 shooting, Jones gets it, and seemed like the only UK player playing with a lot to prove. While John Calipari's big three freshman appear to be happy just being here, Jones was working his tail off to get better. He's already eyeing New Orleans.
Miss long, and you’ll get killed by Kentucky. The Wildcats have the potential to be one of the best transition teams in recent memory. Better than the 2005 UNC Tar Heels, which scored 127 points per 100 possessions and won the National Championship. Any team that stubbornly dares to out-shoot UK better be hitting early and often. Long rebounds lead to fast breaks, which in this case will lead to really fun looking dunks off a single outlet pass and a few dribbles. This is exactly how the Wildcats went on an 18-7 run to open the second half, and they'll do it all season long.
Anthony Davis looks like an oversized guard. For the few that don't know by now, Davis was barely on the radar of Division I coaches entering his junior season. Then he grew rapidly, like eight inches in 12 months rapidly, and suddenly he was a big man with the playing style of a guard. Looking at Davis moving around the court last night and it became obvious there's a crafty little wing player inside him. He looks very comfortable playing on the perimeter. Not Kevin Garnett or Dirk Nowitzki comfortable, but rather because he grew up shooting and beating defenders off the dribble. His potential is frightening.
Thomas Robinson is what I thought he would be. You know, for all the hype Thomas Robinson received this off-season, it would have been completely acceptable if he underwhelmed in his first nationally televised game. You could argue either way on this guy; he was the only player in the game to record a double-double, but he only got the the free-throw line once and fouled out with nearly four minutes to play. With a thin backcourt surrounding Robinson, there's not much to keep Jayhawk opponents honest, and he'll likely be phalanxed by double teams this season.