By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
Big Blue Fans, it is the last week of October and Coach Calipari is once again warning the Big Blue Nation about their need for patience with a new group of players because it will take them until March to be ready for March. He has added to his fine whine, a whine that is worthy of the finest Italian vineyards, a concern about a roster so thin, it could be harmed by any player loss due to injury.
Yes, on Sunday afternoon, the Cats will demonstrate the fruits of their labors in practice against a real, live opponent, Georgetown, defending NAIA National Champions. This will be Georgetown’s first appearance in Rupp against a Kentucky team since November 9, 2014 when the 2014-15 Cats defeated the Tigers 121-52 in the second exhibition game of that fateful 38-1 season.
For the record, Pomeroy has tagged this UK team as the #2 team in the nation in the pre-season ratings. Pomeroy projects a 30-1 record against this schedule, with the only loss coming in the first game of the year when the Cats will confront #1 Michigan State in the Champions’ Classic in New York City. The two exhibitions are the final tune ups for the season opener. This year, the two exhibition opponents are Georgetown and Kentucky State.
The Cats make their final preparations to begin their quest for a return to the Final Four in search of the program’s 9th National Championship. Let the journey begin with the exhibitions, just as it has every year within my memory.
Over the past 9 seasons, the Cats have averaged a 43-point victory over its first exhibition opponent (98-55) and for those same previous nine (9) seasons, the Cats have improved between their first and second exhibition games to a 60 point average margin (114-54). This and the second exhibition game next Friday are about effort and improvement. The measuring sticks are the margins of victory and the degree of improvement between the first and second starts. It is unclear how the bonus exhibition game against Morehead, sandwiched between the two traditional exhibitions will affect this relationship.
This year, based on how prior exhibition games have played out and the relative strength of Georgetown, this game shapes up to be a 39 point game, 96-57 if the Cats are on par with the previous nine Calipari led teams at the end of October.